in memoriam - Dom Luis Bramo (1909-2007)
Dom Luis Bramo, former chief of FAO’s World Soil Resources Office, passed away at Estoril (Portugal) on 8 November 2007. He was born in Lisbon on 31 May 1909.
He graduated from the School of Agriculture of the University of Lisbon in 1933. He obtained an MSc in agricultural engineering in 1935 with special reference to soil survey and land use suitability. In 1935-36 he served as Chief soil section of the Portuguese National Board of Irrigation and Drainage. In 1936-39 he took advanced training at Cornell University in the USA, under a scholarship of the Portuguese Government. In 1939 he was appointed Chief of the Division of Soils of the Agricultural Research Organization of Portugal. In cooperation with the Plant Industry Station at Beltsville, USA and the University of Lisbon he undertook thesis research on clay mineralogy and soil classification.
In 1951-52, on leave from the Government of Portugal and in association with the Rockefeller foundation Dr. Bramo provided scientific assistance to the government of Brazil on soil issues in the Amazon and the State of Sao Paulo. This mission was extended in the framework of FAO’s programme for technical assistance in charge of research, teaching and the initiation of a soil map of Brazil.
In 1955 he joined FAO headquarters in Rome where he was charged with the organization’s soil survey programmes. From the beginning he suggested that FAO’s soil survey network also be mobilized to undertake an inventory of soil resources at continental scale. Consultations which took place on the occasion of the sixth congress of the International Society of Soil Science (ISSS) in Paris in 1956 revealed an overall interest for regional soil inventories. As a result soil maps of great regions were presented at the seventh congress of the ISSS, held in 1960 at Madison, WI, USA. On this basis and in response to a recommendation of the Congress FAO and Unesco, in association with the ISSS, agreed to prepare a Soil Map of the World. In 1961 the coordination of the project was enthrusted to FAO’s World Soil Resources Office, of which Dr. Bramo, was the begetter and coordinator. The work of the World Soil Resources Office, guided by an international advisory panel, comprising the collection and correlation of survey material, field reconnaissances, worldwide cooperation under Dr. Bramo’s direction lead to the presentation of a first draft of the Map and of the international legend at the ninth congress of the ISSS at Adelaide in 1968.
Dr. Bramo returned to Portugal in 1969. Upon his return he served as a Director of Research at the Portuguese Agricultural Research Organization.
In 1971-72 he was a member of the Portuguese delegation to the FAO Council and Conference. From 1972 till 1975 he was Professor of the International Course Fertilidad de Suelos e Nutricion Vegetal at the Universidade Complutence in Madrid. In 1977 he assumed the position of governor of IFAD. He was a Guildersleeve guest professor at Barnard College., Columbia University, New York. He participated in the studies of the Pontifical Academy of Science on organic matter and soil fertility.
He became a knowledgeable student of Portuguese genealogy and was the founder and first president of the Portuguese association of historical houses which worked with international counterparts in the Netherlands, France and England.
Dr. Bramo was a life member of the ISSS and was the liaison between FAO and the ISSS at the time that it obtained a consultative status with the specialized UN agency. He will be remembered as a fervent promoter of international cooperation for the global inventory of soil resource. To Mrs. C. Bramo the IUSS expresses its condolences and deep sympathy.