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Alumni testimonies

Katarzyna Zielewska-Büttner

Freiburg, 25.09.2017

Katarzyna Zielewska-Büttner

After completing a M.A. Degree in Geography in Poland in 2005 and looking for a further forest and biodiversity oriented education I found the newly established Forest Ecology and Management Program. Interesting curriculum, international scope of the program, well known university and great location at the foothills of the Black Forest were enough reasons to apply and then to enjoy the 2 years of studies very much.   

Already during my studies I started to work as a scientific assistant in the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg (FVA) also located in Freiburg.  It was a great opportunity to combine studies with gaining practical experience in the field of forestry that I was partly new to after the geography studies in Poland. Many biodiversity and nature conservation related lectures, courses in GIS and remote sensing, an internship and the Master Thesis on Deadwood detection from aerial imagery in the Bavarian Forest National Park verified my scientific interests and determined my further professional choices.

Since graduation in 2007 I collected many valuable work experiences in various GIS, remote sensing and nature conservation related projects in the FVA, in FELIS and University of Freiburg, in England and in the Lower Oder National Park (HNEE Eberswalde). They paved my way to the current position as remote sensing specialist in the Department of Forest Nature Conservation – Research Group of Forest Protection Areas at the FVA in Freiburg. 

Dr. Edward Debrah Wiafe, Ghana.

2010 Graduate. Current position: Presbyterian University College, Ghana


What I liked most about the Forestry Studies in Freiburg was the practical exposure and diverse topics covered in the taught courses. I am now a senior Lecturer and the Dean of Faculty of Development Studies, Presbyterian University College, Ghana. The programme exposed me to several aspects of forestry globally; improved my analytical skills and how to review scientific manuscripts, publish articles and exposure to scientific community. It also helped my admission into the PhD programme which I completed on time (2010-2012) and accelerated my employment. At present, I have about 30 peer reviewed Journal articles and 2 books to my credits. I am also the country representative in the IUFRO council and an Office holder. I am also a member of IUCN/Species Specialist Group (African Primates); International Primatological Society and steering committee member of African Primatological Society.

M.Sc. Antra Boča, Latvia

2011 Graduate. Current position: Researcher Utah State University


I started the Forest Ecology and Management programme (the predecessor of the International Forestry Track) at the University of Freiburg after receiving a B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Latvia. Apart from interesting classes, and a supportive academic environment, I loved the international scope of the programme, both in terms of studies, and in terms of my fellow students. I am currently finishing my PhD at Utah State University (USU), USA. My path to USU started in Freiburg where I took a class from a visiting professor. The breadth of international research and collaborations in forestry is one of the biggest strengths of the programme.

Dr. Debojyoti Chakraborty, India.

2012 Graduate. Current position: Austrian Research Centre for Forests (BFW), Vienna


I joined the International Master’s program in Forest Ecology and Management in 2010 with an Erasmus Mundus scholarship. The University of Freiburg was the obvious choice because of its long forestry tradition and the multicultural nature of the city known for its sensitivity towards green living. The well-structured programme work provided me with immense opportunities and challenges to hone my skills in the subject. The attractive features of this programme are the frequent excursions, group assignments, supportive faculties and emphasis on academic writing. My affiliation with the University of Freiburg played a major role in getting accepted at the prestigious ETH Zürich for my master's thesis. My time in Freiburg was a joy where I made lots of friends. With the Black Forest at the doorstep and the wonderful people, the two years of my masters was one of the most cherished time of my life.

M.Sc. Nicole Stump, United States of America

2008 Graduate. Current position: District Forest Management Team Leader, US Forest Service


I am currently working for the U.S. Forest Service as a District Forest Management Team Leader. My responsibilities include planning projects where vegetation management can be used to create wildlife habitat, conducting forest inventory, and preparing timber sales.  I began my career with the Forest Service as a GIS Specialist. However, using the knowledge and skills I gained through the Forest Ecology and Management program (the predecessor of the International Forestry Track) as well as on-the-job training opportunities and experience, I was able to get my current position as a Team Leader. Aside from the great mix of modules, the opportunity to build relationships with people from all over the globe was the most enjoyable.

M.Sc. Rene Kaam, Cameroon.

2016 Graduate. Current position: International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation


Studying the Master of Forest Science, elective track “International Forestry” offers endless opportunities both at the national and international level.

I am Rene Kaam, I come from Cameroon. I was enrolled in the M.Sc. Forest Science with the elective track “International Forestry” at the University of Freiburg after completing a Bachelor of Engineering in Wood Science and Technology. Forestry studies at Freiburg University was interesting, challenging and rewarding. The faculty building “Herderbau” is an excellent place to study, the friendly nature of the professor and faculty staffs made my study environment very conducive. Today I am working in the international arena as coordinator of the Technical Advisory Committee on Bamboo and Rattan standardization at the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR). I came in close contact with INBAR during XIV World Forestry Congress in South Africa which I attended as an International Forestry Student from Freiburg. Subsequently I was offered an internship at INBAR as part of my Forestry studies. Not only did I acquire a state of the art training in Forestry, but I was also offered the necessary exposure to develop interpersonal communication skills by group-working with mates from different nationalities and origins and I learned skills critical to work in an international arena.

M.Sc. Nathan Briggs, USA.

2010 Graduate. Current position: Forester, Sewickley Heights Borough, Pennsylvania, USA


I entered the MSc Forest Ecology and Management program (the predecessor of the International Forestry Track) at the University of Freiburg after completing an MSc in Forest Resources at the University of Maine, USA and a BA in Environmental Science from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, USA. In my mind the best aspect of the program in Freiburg was the structure of the programme. Courses are everyday and intense – I feel this allows for more fluid application of complementary classes and gaining a better appreciation for how the program progresses. The international aspect of the program offered great insight into different management strategies – how they were developed and methods for their implementation.

I currently work for a small municipality outside of Pittsburgh PA. In my primary role as Borough forester I manage 1200 acres of hardwood forest and I also assist landowners with forest management and arboricultural decisions. Our forest management is driven to maintain and improve our high-quality watershed (Little Sewickley Creek), improve wildlife habitat through creation of horizontal landscape diversity along with smaller scale improvements to vertical and horizontal structures, and provide safe recreational opportunities.