Heinrich Cotta


Heinrich Cotta

Johann Heinrich Cotta (October 30, 1763 - October 25, 1844) was a German silviculturist who was a native of Kleine Zillbach, near Wasungen, Thuringia. He was the father of geologist Bernhard von Cotta (1808-1879).

Cotta initially learned forestry from his father, and in 1784-85 studied mathematics, natural sciences and cameralism at the University of Jena. Later he returned to Zillbach, where he taught forestry with his father. In 1801 he became a member of the forestry college in Eisenach, while continuing his work at Zillbach. During this time his reputation grew, and in 1810 was appointed director of "Forstvermessung und Taxation" (Forest Measurement and Rating) by Frederick Augustus I of Saxony.

In 1811 he established a forestry school at Tharandt, near Dresden. It would later be known as the Royal Saxon Forestry Academy. The school attracted students throughout Europe, and in 1841 Cotta was given an award by Tsar Nicholas I in recognition of his efforts at Tharandt. Also, in 1813 he was visited at Tharandt by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Cotta was a pioneer of modern forestry, and was a catalyst concerning the transition from "timber production" to forestry as a scientific discipline. He was interested in all aspects of forestry, including studies involving long-term seeding, establishment of forested areas, and tree-cutting based on mathematic practices. Cotta's methodology was based on a geometric survey of the forest, where calculations of the wood mass of individual trees as well as the yield of the entire forested region were made. By way of these calculations an estimate for the monetary worth of a forest could be assessed. In 1804 Cotta was the first to suggest the concept of a "volume table", which was a chart that was introduced decades later to aid in the estimation of standing timber volume.

Cotta also had a keen interest in geology and fossils, and during his career amassed an impressive collection of zoological and botanical fossils. Today pieces of this collection are kept at Humboldt University of Berlin (Institute for Paleontology), in the museum for natural history in Chemnitz, at the Academy of Mining in Freiberg, in the State Natural History Collections in Dresden and in the British Museum of Natural History in London.

Published works

* "Systematische Anleitung zur Taxation der Waldungen" (Systematic Guide for the Assessment of Forests), Berlin 1804
* "Naturbeobachtungen über die Bewegung und Funktion des Saftes in den Gewächsen, mit vorzüglicher Hinsicht auf Holzpflanzen" (Observations on the Movement and Function of Sap in the Plants, etc), Weimar 1806
* "Grundriß zu einem System der Forstwissenschaft" (Outline about the System of Forestry Science), 1813
* "Tafeln zur Bestimmung des Inhalts und Wertes unverarbeiteter Hölzer" (Tables for Determining the Content and Value of Unprocessed Timber), Dresden (1816 to 1897, seventeen editions)
* "Anweisung zum Waldbau" (Instruction about Forestry), Dresden 1817
* "Die Verbindung des Feldbaues mit dem Waldbau oder die Baumfeldwirtschaft", Dresden 1819-1822
* "Anweisung zur Forsteinrichtung und Abschätzung" (Instructions for the Establishment of Forestry and Assessment), Dresden 1820
* "Grundriß der Forstwissenschaft" (Outline of Forestry Science), Dresden und Leipzig 1832
* "Der Kammerbühl nach wiederholten Untersuchungen aufs neue beschrieben", Dresden 1833

References

* "Parts of this article are based on a translation of an article from the German Wikipedia."
* [http://www.escholarship.org/editions/view?docId=ft6d5nb455&chunk.id=d0e16258&doc.view=print The Calculating Forester: Quantification, Cameral Science, and the Emergence of Scientific Forestry Management in Germany]


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