It is rare to meet a largely self-educated person who gets many of his excellent pictures posted on the IAWA (International Association of Wood Anatomists) supporting The Inside Wood Database (https://insidewood.lib.ncsu.edu/). Of course, there’s a very interesting story behind this. I asked several questions that were duly answered — and here the interview is!
Raimund’s father was a forest manager who led teams of 4 to 12 workers, while himself working as the chief feller in his ‘own band’. He used to work, hired by the forester assigned by the landowners, or by major wood dealers such as Kulterer and Weiss, in the Kärnten/Carinthia region of Austria. Kulterer, under the name of Hasslacher Norica Timber, still exists; Weiss has been taken over following the passing of Raimund’s father in 1972. Raimund’s father specialized in work in remote areas where other companies would not go. Besides, he was hired to cut forests, to clear for new high voltage lines, and for building new roads, mainly in mountain areas. For several years, he was busy working on the planned trajectory of the Austrian A2 highway between Villach and Graz, up to the Pack Tunnel (aka Packsattel). Clearing wood that had been blown over due to wind and snow was also taken into his stride. These were often multi-year projects.
Raimund got involved as a child, being taught ‘on the job’ by his Dad from an early age. When he was not working far away from home, the children also were involved — clearing up, stacking lopped off branches and processing wood for fuel. Raimund says: “My mother was the fuel wood boss when my dad was cutting trees somewhere nearby. He was allowed to retain one-third of the fuel, the other two-thirds went to the landowner. So, all of us kids were expected to help and after school we went to the forest instead of walking home. Hence, in a playful manner, we learned a lot about wood. When I was 12, I could join my Dad in the school holidays to learn something, even if at the time it did not feel like that. Since when I was 14, I worked with my Dad for almost two years, until my Mom passed away in January of 1967. Trees, wood and forest had become part of my life.”
“When I came to the Netherlands in 1971 and from 1974 got involved with logistics I again started to be involved in
wood. For a start, I did the Dutch Wood Academy Course that would at the same time promote to enable my Dutch
language skills. Following that, I obtained the ‘Wood retailer’s Licence’ from LOI (Leidse Onderwijs Instelling, = Leiden
Education Institution). When in 1978 I found another job at Bruynzeel Monta Storage Systems, I had the opportunity
to increase my knowledge of wood at the expense of my employer. This happened at first at the Heidemaatschappij
and, in 1982, during a 4-week seminar at Hinkeloord in Wageningen. On that occasion, I got acquainted with J. M.
Fundter who was to become my mentor from then on. That was the decisive moment in my career, since then I realized
that the microscopic characters far outweigh those characters that can be observed with the naked eye. In 1984, I joined Nehosoc, the Dutch Association of Wood Collectors. I went to their one-day seminars and soon after I already supported those who had newly joined in their study of wood. From 2008/2009 till 2018/2019 I was responsible for the seminars (during the winter season) in wood studies.”
“J.M. Fundter not only was the man who set me on the track,he also supported me a lot. In 1982-83 I was allowed, by the wisdom of — and paid by — my employer, to spend about 20 working days in his office, studying plant taxonomy and wood anatomy. I received many samples from him, often for free. Whenever he considered to dispose of anything — books, punched ID cards, microscopy slides, hand lenses, or microscopes — my telephone would ring, and he’d enquire whether I would be interested.”