Prof. Dr. Kai Tobias died - An obituary

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Prof. Tobias was among other things bdla-speaker landscape planning from 1997 to 2009

Much too early we had to say goodbye to our esteemed colleague, companion and dear friend Prof. Dr. Kai Tobias, who died suddenly and unexpectedly on April 11, 2022 at the age of only 60.

Born in 1961 in Helmstedt (Lower Saxony), he completed studies in landscape management at the Technical University of Munich-Weihenstephan between 1981 and 1986 and worked there as a research assistant at the Chair of "Landscape Ecology" (Professor Wolfgang Haber). The thematic focus of his dissertation "The hierarchical system method - conceptual basis for applied ecosystem research", with which he received his Dr. agrar. from the same university in 1990, accompanied his scientific, professional and journalistic work in the following years. After leading positions in different federal and state authorities such as the office "Ecosystem Research Wadden Sea" at the Federal Environmental Agency in Berlin and the field "Landscape Planning / Intervention Regulation" at the State Office for Environmental Protection Saxony-Anhalt, he changed to the free economy and worked as a project manager in the planning office Dr. Schaller between 1992 and 1994.

In 1994, he then returned to academia and taught for five years as a professor of landscape planning at the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Applied Sciences in Erfurt. Since September 2000, Kai Tobias headed the teaching and research area "Ecological Planning andamp; Environmental Impact Assessment" at the Department of Spatial and Environmental Planning at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern and since 2007 the teaching and research area "Landscape andamp; Open Space Development" at the department of the same name.

A member of the bdla since 1994, Kai Tobias was closely associated with the association for many years. He was passionately and emphatically committed to the interests of landscape and environmental planning. In 1997, he succeeded Prof. Gerhard Hahn-Herse in the office of landscape planning spokesman and also headed the bdla working group of the same name until 2009. He not only provided important impulses for the joint work, but also shaped the external perception of the association with a sure feeling for current topics and professional-political positioning requirements. His wealth of professional experience as well as his comprehensive honorary commitment, of which his many years of activity in the state nature conservation advisory board and chairmanship of the foundation board of the Stiftung Naturschutz Thüringen as well as his participation in the editorial advisory board of the journal "Naturschutz und Landschaftsplanung" are worth mentioning, have not only sharpened his eye for the planning essentials.

Together with Prof. Beate Jessel at the honorary membership award ceremony for Prof. Haber in 2008. © Jörg Jannasch

In his standard work on landscape planning "Ecologically Oriented Planning", published together with Beate Jessel in 2002, there is a clear commitment to the need for (landscape) planning and at the same time an appeal to be aware of its limitations. The authors link the paradigm shift in the prevailing views of science, which are characterized by strict rationality and causal or feasibility thinking, with an insight into a limited capacity for knowledge and prognosis as well as the complex dynamics of constantly changing systems, with an attribution that could not be more current: Planning in the well-understood sense must always be accompanied by ongoing feedback on planning goals and the possibility of error correction. And so they give us and the students, to whom the compendium is primarily addressed, the simple and yet not self-evident statement that planning also means learning from experience. What could be more groundbreaking in the current debate about ways to shape the transformation process and the landscape change that accompanies it?

After twelve years of professionally productive cooperation, Prof. Dr. Kai Tobias was able to hand over a well-cultivated field and a highly motivated working group to his successor in the office of bdla spokesman for landscape planning, Bernhard Gillich.

With Kai Tobias, we are losing a colleague who is highly esteemed on all sides, and whose professional competence and friendly manner were held in high esteem far beyond our professional circles.

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