Hans Carl von Carlowitz and “Sustainability”

The concept of “sustainability,” or “Nachhaltigkeit” in German, can be traced back to Hans Carl von Carlowitz (1645–1714), who managed mining on behalf of the Saxon court in Freiberg. Despite the court’s forest regulations, the impact of timber shortages on Saxony’s silver mining and metallurgy industries was devastating. In his work Sylvicultura Oeconomica oder Anweisung zur wilden Baum-Zucht (Sylvicultura Oeconomica or the Instructions for Wild Tree Cultivation), Carlowitz formulated ideas for the “sustainable use” of the forest. His view that only so much wood should be cut as could be regrown through planned reforestation projects, became an important guiding principle of modern forestry.

Further Readings: 
  • Grober, Ulrich. "Der Erfinder der Nachhaltigkeit." Die Zeit, November 25, 1999. View PDF
  • Grober, Ulrich. Die Entdeckung der Nachhaltigkeit: Kulturgeschichte eines Begriffs. Munich: Antje Kunstmann, 2010.
  • von Carlowitz, Hans Carl. Sylvicultura Oeconomica, oder Haußwirthliche Nachricht und Naturmäßige Anweisung zur Wilden Baum Zucht. Leipzig, 1713.