Honorary Award for Japanese Exchange Student
Rottenburg, 15 March 2021
Japanese exchange student Arichika Ohara from the partner university Gifu Academy of Forest Science and Culture, who spent a year abroad studying forestry at the Rottenburg University of Applied Forest Sciences from September 2019 to August 2020, crowned his successful studies with a special award. For his final thesis “The Role of the Forester in the Management of Small Private Forests in Baden-Württemberg in Germany”, his university honoured him with the “President's Honorary Award”. This honorary prize is awarded by the Gifu Academy of Forest Science and Culture in Japan on an irregular basis and exclusively for particularly outstanding achievements. Even during his studies at the university, Mr Ohara had already shown himself to be an exemplary student due to his quick comprehension, his linguistic talent, but above all due to his enthusiasm for all forestry topics. He was very popular with his fellow students and lecturers, and so it does not come as a surprise that he has now been awarded the honorary prize of his home university for his achievements. For the University of Applied Forest Sciences, this award is proof of a successful internationalisation concept and the opportunities that can arise for students from abroad.
Mr Ohara is also distinguished by the fact that when the COVID-19 pandemic spread in spring 2020, he made a conscious decision not to break off his stay abroad, but to remain in Germany. When the attendance courses at the universities were subsequently suspended, he faced a completely new and difficult situation. The fact that he took on this challenge and also mastered it well is admirable. He delved further into his studies and supported Professor Hein as a research assistant in his Japan project “3 Arrows”, which has been funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture since 2020. As part of the project team, he was able to visit cultivation trials with Japanese tree species in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, which surprised and impressed him: “I almost feel like I'm in Japan,” he commented with a smile when he found himself in a vital stock of tall Cryptomeria japonica, the Japanese cedar, at Florianswald Arboretum in Metzingen.
After Arichika Ohara had already studied for half a year at the Rottenburg University of Applied Forest Sciences, he applied for a Baden-Württemberg-STIPENDIUM for his further stay. His application was accepted by the university's selection committee, which is not exactly a given either.
For his thesis, Arichika Ohara conducted numerous interviews with representatives of the forest administration, with Professor Christoph Schurr supporting him both in terms of content and organisation. For example, Dr. Silke Lanninger, head of the Wolfach forestry district, was available to answer his questions. The Osterburken forest district with Mr Dietmar Heid and his “home district” with Mr Raik Tänzer were also the setting for his interviews, and the interviewees provided him with important information from forestry practice. The situation of private forests in Japan is very similar to that in Germany: Small parcels, often less than one hectare in size, unclear ownership, and underutilisation – this is the situation in Japan and especially in Ohara's home prefecture of Gifu, which is one of Japan's most densely forested regions. More than two thirds of the area is forested, and the “improvement of private forests” is a particular challenge for the local forestry authorities. Ohara's thesis can therefore be of great use for further reform efforts in Japanese forestry.
Mr Ohara will not be satisfied with the “President's Award”. He is currently planning a second trip to Germany to enrol again at Rottenburg University of Applied Forest Sciences, but this time as a regular student.
Contact: Petra Martin, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Christoph End, Translation into English: Sebastian Knab
The Baden-Württemberg Stiftung
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