The Fathers of American Forestry

Symposium – Convened by the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC)

Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and Freiburg University

Freiburg, Germany, 10 November 2018


The Brandis, Schenck, and Pinchot names are etched into the foundation of modern forestry. The three men Sir Dietrich Brandis, Carl Alwin Schenck, and Gifford Pinchot were united by a common ambition that the forests were to be preserved as a resource for the people and future generations. Together, they set their sights on the United States of America. At the end of the nineteenth century the nation was teetering on the edge of environmental collapse. Generations of clear cutting and forest exploitation left the wooded lands of America with a bleak outlook. Recognizing the urgency that America was facing in the 1890s, Sir Dietrich Brandis began to take pupils to deliver the scientific field of forestry across the Atlantic Ocean. Brandis derived his insight and wisdom from his own experience of establishing a national forest system in British India. His two chosen pupils were to become America’s first foresters were Gifford Pinchot, and Carl Alwin Schenck. Both were young and able men driven by a passion for forest sustainability. Through the trio’s fortitude and perseverance, they were able to deter the young nation from environmental catastrophe while developing a number of universities of forestry as well as the United States Forest Service. Modern environmentalism owes much to these three families. However, as the world faced the hurdles of the twentieth century the relationships that these families shared was set adrift. Now the historical tide has reversed course and the forthcoming event will allow the three families to rekindle the relationships that their forefathers began, relationships that sculpted environmentalism as we know it.

The Symposium

On 10 November 2018, the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) hosted the symposium The Fathers of American Forestry. The symposium was an assembly of the families of Sir Dietrich Brandis and Carl Alwin Schenck  as well as the representative of the Cradle of Forestry and thus the family of Gifford Pinchot. The meeting took place in Freiburg, Germany.


  • Welcome and Introduction: Prof. Dr. Johann Georg Goldammer, Director of Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC)
  • Reuniting Legacies: Jameson Karns, historian and PhD Candidate, University of California, Berkeley, in cooperation with GFMC
  • The Heritage of Sir Dietrich Brandis: Dr. Ursula Brandis, custodian of the Brandis Heritage, widow of Prof. Dr. Henning Brandis, the grandson of Lady Katharina Brandis
  • The Brandis Foundation: Dr. Andreas Sedlatschek, nephew of Dr. Ursula Brandis
  • Recovering the Schenck Heritage – Introduction: Klaus Bräunig, Grand-nephew of Carl Alwin Schenck
  • The Schenck Family in Darmstadt: Leopold Jarolemek, historian
  • Carl Alwin Schenck in Lindenfels – A retrospective: Christoph von Rhöneck, friend of Carl Alwin Schenck
  • Living with and interpreting History: Robert Beanblossom, United States Forest Service, Biltmore Campus, North Carolina

Symposium Participants

The Schenck Family

Herr Klaus Bräunig

Herr Christoph von Rhöneck

Herr Leopold Jarolemek

The Brandis Family

Frau Dr. Ursula Brandis

Herr Dr. Andreas Sedlatschek

The Cradle of Forestry

Frau Judy Beanblossom

Herr Robert Beanblossom

The Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC)

Herr Prof. Dr. Johann Georg Goldammer

Herr Jameson Karns

Herr John Karns

Symposium Agenda and Report

The publication: Memories of Carl Alwin Schenck including the Proceedings of the Freiburg Symposium

Bibliographic reference and more:

Visual Impressions

Opening Session in Oberkirch’s “Saal”

Jameson Karns introducing the symposium

Opening Session in Oberkirch’s “Saal”

From left to right – Robert Beanblossom, John Karns, Leopold Jarolemek, Klaus Bräunig, Christoph von Rönneck

Continuing Session in Oberkirch’s “Wohnzimmer”:

Johann Georg Goldammer, Leopold Jarolemek, Klaus Bräunig and Christoph von Rönneck

Ursula Brandis and Andreas Sedlatschek presenting the heritage of Sir Dietrich Brandis

Jameson Karns listening to Robert Beanblossom

Judy Beanblossom, Ursula Brandis, Andreas Sedlatschek and John Karns

Jameson Karns handing over a remnant of Sir Dietrich Brandis’ Office

(front shield of the drawer that contained the files of 1902) to Ursula Brandis

In return, Ursula Brandis donated a painting of Lady Katharina Brandis to Jameson Karns

The Brandis and Schenck Families reunited: Andreas Sedlatschek, Ursula Brandis and Klaus Bräunig

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien