For tens of thousands of years humans, and the natural environment, co-existed in relative harmony in the area now known as south-eastern Australia. From 1788 however, sustained migration, sponsored by the British, commenced.
The discovery of gold, in the 1850s, was to result in a literal stampede of humanity, from across the Globe. Among other things it was to be a brutal time for the environment, and particularly for the area’s forests and woodlands, as the skeletal British-based bureaucracy struggled to adapt.
In 1882, one of Victoria’s first foresters in the then British Colony was appointed, to supervise the Ballarat-Creswick State Forest. Over the next couple of decades this remarkable individual, and truly committed public servant, John La Gerche, battled to deal with what he termed ‘…the great (forest) slaughter…’ and its aftermath and, in so doing, became a great example to those who, to this day, follow in his footsteps.
A special workshop was held during the 2001 joint Commonwealth and IFA Forestry Conference in Fremantle, WA. An initiative of Chris Haynes, the workshop was developed as part of the IFA Conference Partners Program, to explore the role of partners in the forestry profession.
With the aid of slides, an international group of forestry partners (all women this time - we hope some male partners will join us for future sessions) talked about our association with Forestry through the years and found that we shared many common experiences. There were also some unusual and unique situations described, with much laughter.
We then went on to identify the forces related to Forestry that impact on our lives now - the highs and the lows. From this exercise emerged the following main points relating to the role of partners in the forestry profession.
Taken from VSFA NL No. 4, November 1954.
In 1954 the FCV still generally managed plantations and native forests through separate organisational arrangements. Measurements of wood volumes in the article are given in super feet, which would have meant super feet, Hoppus Log Volume.
The area of Reserved Forest is approximately 76,000 acres, that of Protected Forest is negligible. About 40,000 acres are Messmate-Peppermint-Gum forest of good quality, with a relatively favorable silvicultural history and therefore highly productive. 90 acres of pine plantation at Mt. Franklin, to be increased to 145 acres, is under District control.
The District straddles the Dividing Range, and embraces the headwaters of the Loddon, Moorabool, Werribee and Lerderderg Rivers. Topography is undulating foothill type, except in the valley of the last-named stream which for several miles is gorge-like. Rainfall ranges from 30" minus to 40" plus.
At present staff consists of District Forester, Assistant Forester, two Clerical Assistants, one Forest Overseer, four Staff Foremen and one Forest Foreman. Labour strength is 21 men, and transport one utility, one Land Rover, two trucks and one Scout car.
Barry Marsden was the lead player in the development of the new aerial ignition machines based on the "Premo Principle", and the Aerial Drip Torches described in this article. Bryan Rees played a key role in field testing the "Premo" machine.
From the late 1960s, aerial ignition became a very important part of Victorian forestry operations. Initially, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters were used for fuel reduction burning, with helicopters also playing a key role in large-scale backburning during fire suppression operations. Eventually, helicopters also came to be important in igniting regeneration burns following timber harvesting.