Dear students, distinguished collaborators, esteemed colleagues,
Our institution is one of the three oldest faculties in Republic of North Macedonia (RNM), who are also founding members of the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University. Established in 1947, as part of the former Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, the institution for a long time bore the recognizable name Faculty of Forestry in Skopje, until 2019. Since then, for better representation of all aspects the faculty deals with nowadays, both in education and in science and practice, which are much broader than the classical understanding of forestry, the name of our institution is Hans Em Faculty of Forest Sciences, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Engineering (HEF).
Throughout its over 70-years long history, the faculty is in constant evolution and change, and adapts to current social, technological, teaching, educational, scientific and other conditions and aspects, important for a teaching-scientific institution. Through the constant minor, and occasionally through substantial changes in the curriculum, we actively adapt and focus on the preservation, protection and promotion of forests, as one of the prerequisites for the general conservation of biodiversity. The last major change of HEF occurred in 2012, when in addition to modernizing the existing “Forestry” and “Landscape Design” courses, the “Ecoengineering and Eco-Management” course was introduced as well.
Today, HEF, through the training of professionals, as well as through the implementation of scientific research and application projects, is one of the key links in forestry in RNM, but also in affined areas related to horticulture and environmental sciences in general.
In the “Forestry” course, the main focus of the studies is dedicated to forest management. Today, forests are still an important resource for the economies of many countries and regions, but the approach is gradually abandoned, according to which they are seen only as a financial category. Apart from being a resource that provides material goods, primarily wood and other forest resources (medicinal plants, mushrooms, fruits, etc.), modern forestry and modern forest societies see it as a fragile system with much greater environmental and social benefits, which they themselves have their own financial values. Numerous other useful functions for society are: multifaceted protective function, especially in terms of protecting biodiversity and stopping soil erosion, positive impact on climate and water regime, oxygen production and air purification, improving environmental quality, CO2 binding as one of the so-called greenhouse gases, leisure and recreation of people, and many others.
The “Ecoengineering and Eco-Management” course is mainly committed to a holistic approach to forests and the landscape in general. Theoretical and practical work during the study of this course give future engineers appropriate guidance and knowledge on soil and water protection, planning, use and management of land and water resources, management of protected and protective forest areas, and they are also trained to assess the impact of forestry and eco-engineering activities on the environment.
In the “Landscape Design” course, the basic principles and elements necessary for the successful combination of the functional with the aesthetic are studied in the conception and creation of gardens of various types and formats. Landscape architecture is studied in detail and includes not only the principles and techniques in design, but also the main physiological, morphological, aesthetic and ecological characteristics of plants, which are the basic material for creating parks. In addition, students are educated about combining multiple elements (vegetation, relief, water and architecture), and at the same time harmoniously combine art and science in the realization of their horticultural projects. The courses cover a wide range of knowledge from various fields, which enable students to design, implement and maintain mini- or mega-projects all related to landscaping and horticulture in urban and peri-urban environments. Green areas are essentially a cultivated area, and in addition to aesthetic impact, they fulfill a number of other functions important for modern living. They improve the microclimate in the neighborhoods, purify the air, reduce temperature extremes and city noise. Greenery is crucial in the wider, general arrangement of urban areas, and is one of the most important factors in improving the quality of life in populated areas.
For students who are studying or will study at HEF, they invest in acquiring knowledge that will surely change their lives, because they decide to deal with modern environmental challenges and secure a future not only for themselves but also for future generations. That is why, at HEF, we strive to provide modern methods and techniques in the process of forming professional staff, future engineers, environmentalists, horticulturists. But, through the educational process, we strive not only for professional development of students, but also for them to become lovers in their profession. Only such, professional, dedicated and agile experts will be able to deal with the many challenges in our profession, or more precisely, a group of professions. Given the global climate change and the already catastrophic adverse effects associated with it, sustainable forestry, both globally and locally, is one of the few remaining tools that modern man can tackle. It is clear that we are no longer in a position to see forests solely as a resource for securing wood and other materials and raw materials, but that we must care for, nurture and protect them much more than we use them. In terms of higher education, we are here to teach and remind students, our future colleagues, that every step in the right direction brings positive changes, and every step in the wrong direction makes it increasingly difficult for us to correct mistakes in the future. Students of the newer generations must face the fact that in order to be able to take full advantage of the technological revolution that is currently taking place in the world, they will have to find a way to save the planet on which they will live.
Prof. Kiril Sotirovski, PhD
Dean of the Hans Em Faculty of Forest Sciences, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Engineering