Assessment is the act of making a judgement or deciding the amount, value, quantity or importance of a resource.
For many young foresters, starting out on their career by joining the Assessment Branch/Section for a few years was regarded as a Rite of Passage, an early stage in their career whereby they gained experience in exploring and walking through the often unmapped and trackless bush, marking a transition to a different and more permanent stage of their career.
What follows is an extract from a 2013 publication by Arnis Heislers, which was republished by Epic ArtWorkz in 2016. Arnis graduated from the Victorian School of Forestry in 1960 and, like many other graduates, the first stages of his working life with the Forests Commission, Victoria were concerned with assessing and mapping timber resources. The full publication is available on this site, and it contains wonderful photographs recording his time in alpine forests.
This article and the Blog to which it is connected are being developed
It was in 1928 that:
"The nucleus of a new Forest Assessment Branch was formed by the employment of three specially trained European foresters from Norway - Bjarne Dahl, Kristian Drangsholt and Bernard Johannessen."
"Early work starting in the Rubicon and Royston forests consisted initially of a baseline survey followed by transects 5 chain apart using tape, chain, compass. Abney level, and Aneroid barometer with 1 chain wide strips in which plots were measured to record species, height, diameter and condition of trees to calculate volume of timber. This early work by these Norwegian foresters initially being based at places like Taggerty and Marysville eventually extended across most of the foothill forests of the State with transects or strips then being placed further apart at 20 chain intervals giving a 5% sample of the assessment block."
"These strip assessments continued across the State, with forest mapping and classification carried out using interpretation of aerial photography undertaken by the RAAF. Assessments were generally in remote locations with access by 4WD tracks, with staff based in temporary camps under canvas tents. Some assessment teams were also based in rented houses and also huts in road construction camps."
"And later on, assessment teams comprising 2 to 3 foresters and 3 to 4 chainmen camped in the mountain forests often in grassy clearings in high elevation snow gum woodland. And at other times assessment teams were camped in caravans in more accessible parts of the forests."
All the above quotes come from Roger Smith.
Assessments of this type continued into the 1960s.
Feed Murray Paine's recollections into this blog
FCV Annual Reports - annual assessment summaries -
I need to insert Leon Pederick's Article in here somewhere as well. And his Assessment School docs?
'Assessment Projects This article is still being developed - a focus on some assessment work to understand the processes of the 1950's and 1960's North Jamieson Assessment 1959 The Last Job with Pack Horses? In a discussion in August 2018, Bernie Evans indicated that he thought this assessment was probably the last to be conducted using pack horses. "The main summer programme comprised assessment surveys of alpine ash forests in the Mt. Misery locality of Omeo forest district, in the vicinity of the Bluff in the headwaters of the North Jamieson river in Mansfield forest district, and in the Mt. Ewen locality near Dargo in Briagolong forest district. These were based on systematic sampling at close intervals and were greatly facilitated by the use of aerial photo interpretation." Source: FCV Annual Report, 1958/59 Bernie Evans Annual rport info in here? In early January 1960, after graduation from VSF in December 1959, Bernie was posted to Assessment Branch. On his first day Murray Paine gave Bernie a train ticket to Orbost. When he arrived in Orbost he was met by Sam Bruton who, at that time was in charge of the crew Bernie was to join. The crew was, at that time, working out of Davies Plain. On the way to Davies Plain they stopped in at the Swifts Office, where to his astonishment, Bernie saw cases of gelignite stored in the DFO’s office. On the way to Davies Plain they got irretrievably bogged and walked all night to reach the camp the next morning. An exciting start to what turned out to be 3½ years in Assessment , with a lot of that time spent in the north east forests (describe??) where the task was to assess alpine ash stands. The stands had already been identified from aerial photography and mapped in Melbourne, and the task was to determine the sawlog volumes in each stand. The approach was simple – establish a base line from which transects would be run into each stand, with 3chain by 1 chain plots measured every 10 chain. On each plot the dbhob of every tree was recorded, the stand top height measured (two trees of largest diameter) and estimates of sawlog lengths and allowable defect made. Crew of 5-6 people. Camp sites. The results of this work were important particularly for Benambra where , on the basis of this work, a sawmill was established which operated for more than 20 years. Other wood went north to provide sawlogs into Corryong mills. Assessing the Buenba, Grassy Knob Country between Buenba and Tom Groggin – A Heislers, Thommo, Peter Murray, Kerry Mayo. Camped right on Buenba Creek. Beloka range, Buenaba Grassy Knob, Mt Hope. Alpine ash – 20-30 by 30 km. All mature alpine ash. Contact the Editor