Climate change poses many pressing questions for environmental scientists: What are the interactions between plants, soil and atmosphere? How do important processes such as photosynthesis or water flows change? When do forest ecosystems reach their tipping points? The Eva Mayr-Stihl Foundation supports the search for answers to these questions. As a result, it is funding the construction of the Umwelttechnikum, a forestry and environmental science experimental research center at the University of Freiburg. “We seek to strengthen the University of Freiburg’s profile in environmental and forest sciences with this funding. The Environmental Technical Center closes the gap between laboratory research, large-scale field experiments and observation plots and will thus enable promising research activities,” says Honorary Senator Robert Mayr, benefactor and board member of the foundation, explaining the funding at the signing of the funding agreement for four million euros on July 26, 2021. “We are very grateful to the Eva Mayr-Stihl Foundation for making the construction of the Environmental Technical Center possible in order to expand research on nature and the environment at our university. This will also significantly strengthen our profile field of environment and sustainability,” says Prof. Dr. Kerstin Krieglstein, Rector at the University of Freiburg.
Bundling environmental science research approaches
The building with an adjacent greenhouse will be located on the Faculty of Engineering campus and will be used by the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, which has now grown to 44 professorships, in many cases in intensive cooperation with professorships from the Faculty of Biology and the Faculty of Engineering. “With the Environmental Technical Center, we are advancing networking and cooperation between the various disciplines and bundling diverse forestry and environmental science research approaches. It is an important milestone for the successful development of our faculty, which we have recently greatly expanded,” says Prof. Dr. Heiner Schanz, Dean of the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Freiburg.
In the Environmental Technical Center, scientists will be able to simulate diverse ecosystems, for example to research the resilience of tree species. They will also be able to carry out experimental simulations of extreme events such as drought or heavy rainfall. In addition, the interaction between plants and insects will be studied in greater detail and the development of new research methods and measurement techniques will be advanced. Construction of the Environmental Technical Center is scheduled for completion in mid-2023.
Eva Mayr-Stihl Foundation
The Eva Mayr-Stihl Foundation was established in 1986 by Eva Mayr-Stihl and her husband Robert Mayr. One of the focal points of the foundation’s work is the promotion of science and research. At the University of Freiburg, it has significantly promoted the strategic development of today’s field of environment and sustainability since the 1990s, in particular through endowed and named professorships, prizes and research funding, initially at the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, and later additionally at the Department of Sustainable Systems Engineering (INATECH) in the Faculty of Engineering. In addition, the foundation supports the Young Academy for Sustainability Research, in which outstanding young scientists work together on an interdisciplinary basis. The University of Freiburg has awarded Eva Mayr-Stihl and Robert Mayr the distinction of honorary senator for their special contribution to the University’s positive development.