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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 1926  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/01/1926   
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FORESTRY IN AUSTRALIA

GENERAL

1. Evolution of Scientific Forestry. - (i) In Other Lands. (a) General. It was by slow degrees only that the countries of the old world developed their forestry systems. (Originally tribal common lands for feeding pigs, and hunting country open to all, the forests gradually became preserves of royal houses or of the aristocracy, the people generally being granted merely the right of pasturage. Step by step, as the value of the forests became better known, their use for the production of timber was emphasized, and usages, servitudes, and rights of entry which were opposed to the forestry interests were extinguished. Forestry is the scientific management of forests with a view to the highest sustained yield of timber and various other products. The principle of sustained yield is well established in Europe, and the forest is there regarded as capital, which, if properly managed, will yield its timber interest yearly and in perpetuity. Before this stage was reached, however, much timber was destroyed for the purpose of increasing grazing areas, and when the denudation took place on steep mountain sides, it was generally followed by serious erosion, and by the conversion of perennial streams into intermittent watercourses subject to torrential flows. At the higher levels, destructive avalanches followed the removal of the forest covering. These disasters taught the lesson of the protective value of the forest, and the destruction of timber on high mountains and at the sources of rivers us now prohibited.

(b) France. A large proportion of the State forests in France now consists of "protection" forests, which, if they yield little return in timber, are of great value to the communities on the plain. The annual expenditure on the reforestation of mountains is the heaviest item in the French forestry budget. Although after the revolution France sold half the 12,000,000 acres of State-owned forests, control even over privately-owned forests is now so strict that the owners are prohibited from clearing. City and country corporations hold 32 per cent. of the total forest area, and the working plans for the management of the forests under their control must be approved by the State Forestry Department. The silting over, due to erosion caused by timber destruction of land in the Pyrenees, Vosges, and Alpine regions, rendered land resumption and reforestation necessary on the low lands as well as on the mountains. The work has been carried out either by the State or by the Communes under the stringent reboisement law. The fixing of the shifting sand dunes to the south of the city of Bordeaux was undertaken at the beginning of last century, and, with the co-operation of the Communes no less than a quarter of a million acres of sterile land have been rendered productive. In the last 30 years, plantations have increased the forest area of France by 1,181,000 acres.

(c) Germany. In Germany, a similar evolution to sound forestry practice has taken place, first, from the tribal forest to the hunting forest in which the tribes were allowed rights of pannage. These rights, with additional grants to religious bodies, persisted. and became serious servitudes which cost a considerable amount of money to extinguish during the last century. The dissipating of the forests synchronized with the growth of agricultural holdings. When the ownership of all forest land was inquired into at the end of the 18th century, it was found that State ownership was small in comparison with the areas held by the aristocracy, by the Communes, and by private people. A policy of repurchase was then embarked upon, and the position was greatly improved, so that before the great war it stood as follows :-The State (including about 3 per cent. Crown forests) owned 33 per cent. of the forests, private owners held 48 per cent., and corporations, etc., owned 19 per cent. The policy in regard to details of management of the Communal forests, differs in each of the States. In some, the direction is by the State Government; in others, the State contributes to the cost of forestry. Throughout Germany, however, not only are the forests of the State and the Communes under scientific management, but no less than 30 per cent. of the private forests are subject to Government supervision. In certain States, moreover, the appointment is enforced of trained staffs to manage these private forests.

(d) England. England, in its neglect of forestry, differs from all other European countries. Its island situation, its command of the sea, the close proximity of large supplies of timber, and finally its large industrial population combined to induce an attitude of laissez-faire in forestry matters, in spite of the possession of a large area of waste land unsuitable for any purpose but forestry. It was found during the war that all available shipping was required to carry food and munitions, and the dearth of timber supplies was soon acutely felt. After the termination of the war, land was repurchased for forestry purposes, with the object of planting a sufficient area to assure a supply of home-grown timber for three years in the event of another war.

(e) India and Burma. In India, mainly under the influence of German scientific forest thought, a forest wealth has been built up which in 1923-24 yielded 1,300,000. The Indian forestry service was founded in 1862, and the area under forestry control is now 146,464,000 acres. In Burma the great forests of teak are so managed by qualified European foresters that they continue to yield regular quantities of this valuable timber annually to the whole world.

* Contributed by C. E. Lane Poole, Esq. (Diplome, Nancy), Commonwealth Forestry Adviser, Department of Home and Territories.

2. Requisite Proportion of Forest Area. - It is generally held that when the proportion of forest in any country falls below 0.86 acres per head of the population, that country will be obliged to import timber. Australia possesses 4.25 acres of forest per head of population, and the excess of imports of timber over exports amounts to 28,000,000 cubic feet. There are two reasons for this excess. In the first place the area of 24,500,000 acres given as the wooded area comprises all forest lands, reproductive or otherwise. The bulk of this area consists of cut-over forests swept by fire at frequent intervals, and the area of really productive forests is not available. Secondly, Australia does not possess a surplus of softwoods, and must, therefore-with the exception of a small quantity produced in Queensland and northern New South Wales-import the bulk of its requirements from overseas. The figure 24,500,000 acres represents the total area that in the estimation of foresters should be reserved for forestry, and taking the factor of 0.86, then, when all the forest area of Australia has been brought under sylvicultural treatment, and is yielding its maximum of hard and soft woods, and none is being imported the population of Australia would be 21 millions.


2. Forestry Development in Australia.

1. Progress in Each State. - In Australia, forestry development has proceeded On very similar lines in each of the States, with the exception of South Australia. As was the case in South Africa, South Australia suffered from a deficiency in the area of indigenous forests, hence, for a generation, that State was forced to lead the way in afforestation policy. What happened in the other States was briefly as follows : - In the pioneering stage, there was wholesale destruction of forests to provide areas for agriculture. The saw-millers who followed cut down some of the trees and converted them into merchantable timber. Then came the various State land-settlement programmes under which Government departments destroyed forests to make room for immigrants. Finally, a stage was reached when settlement was proved to be impossible on purely forest land, and the scientific forestry era began. South Australia has reached that stage. Western Australia for years has been rapidly exploiting its timber resources, and at the same time promoting land settlement on an extensive scale. Queensland has been exploiting its softwood resources at a rapid rate, and last year was forced to import softwood from overseas. Victoria and New South Wales are both in the stage when land settlement is beginning to take a less important place, and the governments are realizing that there is a considerable amount of land that will yield better returns under timber than under crops or grazing. Sound forestry methods will doubtless be adopted in those States. Tasmania has reached the final stage, and it is acknowledged there that much of the land on which settlement has been attempted is better adapted for forestry. Financial considerations at present will not, however, permit of embarkation on an intensive forestry policy.

While the successive steps just alluded to were being passed through, there was always a Forestry Service in each State. First it was a branch of the Lands Department, then as saw-milling grew in importance, and revenue expanded, and land settlement threatened the timber interests, the Forestry Branch was taken away from the Lands Department and constituted a separate department under another Minister.

The main business of these early departments was the collection of revenue, and policemen, Crown Lands bailiffs, and similar functionaries acted as field officers. They were, of course, not scientific foresters, but simply tax collectors. The administration of the departments was often entrusted to clerical heads, and the Government had not the advantage of technical advice on forestry matters. Forest policy was largely a matter of political expediency. The saw-miller himself was the arbiter in regard to the timber he should cut - a selection system with the exploiter as selector. When differences of opinion arose between the Lands and the Forestry Departments as to the throwing open of land for settlement, the advice of the Lands Department was generally accepted. The opinion of a qualified surveyor on a point of agriculture was naturally regarded as sounder than that of an ex-policeman on a matter of forestry. That each was equally unqualified to give an opinion was of little moment to a Government desirous always of throwing open any land for settlement. Before the final stage was reached, the exhaustion of the forest resources and the dearth of available agricultural land led to strenuous efforts on the part of the powerful Lands Departments to alienate purely forest country. As a rule, therefore, the last stage, viz., the initiation of sound forestry methods, was not arrived at until there was little first-class forest land left in the hands of the Crown, and the question of repurchase had to be considered. Not only did Australia fail to learn the lesson taught by Europe in regard to forest destruction, alienation, and repurchase, but the separate States failed to learn from each other, and serious blunders were made.

The Forest Departments are being strengthened as time goes on, but the dearth of trained foresters is a serious bar to progress. The unqualified heads, or the tax-collecting field officers, are naturally not in a position to initiate scientific methods of management for the State forests, and little progress can therefore be made. There is urgent necessity for the co-ordination of forest control and the provision of organized systems of sylvicultural instruction.

2. Activities of the Commonwealth Government. - Forestry was not included amongst the matters transferred by the States to the control of the Commonwealth, and federal Supervision, therefore, is restricted to the forests in the Commonwealth Territories. These territories cover a large area, and, with the exception of the Northern Territory, are capable of sound forestry development. It is only during the last few years, however, that any attempt has been made to take stock of the forestry position. Reports have been issued in regard to Papua, Now Guinea, the Federal Capital Territory, and Jervis Bay, and a general policy has been drawn up for the management of the forests of these Territories. So far as co-operation with the States is concerned, there has been progress in a small way in connexion with the investigation of minor forest products. The Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry, for example, has carried out valuable research work into the pulping qualities of Australian hardwoods and into the tanning qualities of barks and other material. It is proposed to enlarge the work of investigation into minor products, and, through a Forestry Bureau of the Commonwealth Government, to co-operate with the States in major forest work. An Australian Forestry School has been founded, and the Federal Capital Commission has appointed a qualified forester to manage the forests at Canberra and Jervis Bay, while it is anticipated that in both New Guinea and Papua the forests will shortly be placed under technical management.

3. Nature and Extent of Australian Forests. - The wooded area of Australia contains a large number of xerophilous trees and woody shrubs which thrive in regions receiving less than 10 inches of rain per annum. Country devoid of tree growth is rare, the conditions being due to lack of suitable soil rather than lack of rainfall. Sand dunes, rock exposures, and clay pans are the most common treeless areas. A treeless region such as the 300 miles long Nullarbor plain is quite exceptional. There the lack of tree growth is due to the failure of the limestone formation to retain moisture. While, however, the major portion of Australia carries trees, and may be said to be well wooded (the term "desert" applying to relatively small areas only), dense forest is confined to a very narrow fringe. The savannah forests of the interior yield minor products such as sandalwood and tanbarks, but do not produce timber. These open, park-like formations carry only scattered trees of low habit. The bulk of the commercial forest products comes from the thickly-timbered areas comprised in the 30-inch and over rainfall belt south of the Tropics, and the 70-inch and over rainfall belt in the Tropics. The total area is comparatively small, and is confined to the following districts :-(a) The coastal belt in the extreme south-west of Western Australia, from a little north of Perth to Albany; (b) the Otway country, in the south of Victoria, and the whole of the south-eastern portion of that State; (c) the mountain forests of Victoria and New South Wales. A forest fringe extends along the coast of New South Wales and Queensland, the rainfall rising from 30 inches in the south and temperate portion to 140 inches in the Tropics. The greater portion of Tasmania receives sufficient rainfall to carry high forest, but & a very small area only in South Australia, and practically none in the Northern Territory, are endowed with the necessary rainfall. Edaphic forests occur here and there, and the most important belt is probably that which is to be found on each side of the Murray River in New South Wales and Victoria. Red Gum (E. rostrata) is the riverine species. Practically the whole of Papua and New Guinea carry or have carried dense forests, the exceptions being certain small dry belts where the rainfall is less than 70 inches. Norfolk Island was, at one time, covered with a thick jungle.

4. Forest Reserves. - At the Inter-State Conference in Hobart in 1920, the foresters of Australia agreed upon the areas in each State that it was possible to reserve permanently for forestry. The areas were distributed as follows:-


State.
Suggested Forest
Reserves.

Acres
New South Wales
Victoria
Queensland
South Australia
Western Australia
Tasmania
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
8,000,000
5,500,000
6,000,000
500,000
3,000,000
1,500,000
Total
. .
24,500,000
The reservations actually made amount to 10,984,460 acres, leaving roughly 14,000,000 acres to be dedicated.

A difficulty common to all States is that the commercial forest area falls within the arable belt, and there is a tendency on the part of those responsible for land settlement to regard all land as potentially agricultural, and to resist attempts made to reserve purely forest land. At the root of the trouble is the inability to realize that forestry is agriculture on a long rotation, and that much land wholly unfit for agriculture is suitable for forestry. Moreover, the wait for returns is so long that it fails to interest the average man and his Parliamentary representative. On the other hand, the enormous area of the Continent seems empty with its 6,000,000 people only, and the cry "We want men, not trees" appeals to the average elector. The destruction over large areas of forest growth to make room for settlement has driven the saw-miller into less commercially accessible forest, so that he now has difficulty in competing against the imported Douglas Fir (Oregon) from U.S.A. or deals from the Baltic. Much of the so-called agricultural area will possibly in years to come revert to the Crown through non-payment of taxes or through repurchase. In the meantime, the forester's work lies in the more remote areas, and on the higher mountains, where, on the one hand, there is less opposition to permanent reservation, and, on the other, the forest conditions are much more difficult, particularly as regards fire control. Even so, the agriculturally sterile Darling Range in Western Australia, which carries magnificent jarrah, still remains unreserved, and the Forestry Department is carrying out sylvicultural work in forests which are not permanently reserved, and are, therefore, subject to alienation.

5. Forest Production. - (i) General. While Forestry Departments have been in existence in New South Wales and in Victoria for over a generation, there are, however, no reliable data regarding the yield per acre of the indigenous forests. The increment of the forests is unknown, and forest management is in its infancy. The interests of the saw-miller have been paramount, and the selection system has been governed by his requirements. In the less wealthy States, where forestry practice has been introduced at a later date, the tenets of sound forestry have been better realized, and the necessity appreciated for a thorough training in the profession. Thus, Western Australia, in the south-west, and Queensland in the north-east, are now leading the way in working plans, and very soon satisfactory yield-tables may be expected for their indigenous forests. South Australia, which never boasted large areas of indigenous forests, has laid down what in comparison with the small efforts of the wealthier States is a large area of plantations. Yields per acre are known, and the way is now clear for an extension of coniferous planting, based on the experience of 46 years' continuous work. The value of forest production for the year 1924-1925 was estimated at 10,577,000. This figure represented the value of all timber sold in the round or converted, including an estimate of the value of the firewood used.

(ii) Common Forest Species. When the vast number of species of the genus Eucalyptus is counted, and to these is added the wealth of tropical and sub-tropical rain-forest species of Queensland and New South Wales, together with the few conifers, the number of common species is too great to allow of separate enumeration within the limits of the present article. All that can be done here is to select the best known from a trade standpoint, at the same time making the proviso that practically no intensive technological work has been carried out, and that many species now considered valueless may in the future find a good market.

In a young country, the value of a timber is generally estimated according to its durability in the ground. Fence posts, house props, and sleepers are wanted, and they must last. Hence, a fine all-round timber like jarrah (E. marginata) is relegated to the sleeper-market, and, in consequence, the waste at the saw-mills rises to 70 per cent. while the mill manager cuts his tally of sleepers to fill an overseas order. In another State, blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) is used for fence posts, and red cedar (Cedrela Toona) elsewhere is used for outbuildings. A splendid constructional timber like karri (E. diversicolor) is condemned as useless because it will not stand in the ground for many years as a sleeper or a house prop, and 6d. a cube is spent to make it durable by a process called ''powellizing.''

The following is a list of the Australian timbers best known on the local markets:-

(a) SCLEROPHYLLOUS FOREST OF THE SOUTH, WEST, AND EAST-MAIN GENUS
Eucalyptus.
E. globulus
" obliqua

" regnans
" gigantea
and E. delegatensis

" marginata
" diversicolor
" rostrata
" capitellata
" sideroxylon
" paniculata
" crebra
" microcorys
" maculata
Blue Gum
Messmate or Stringy Bark
Mountain Ash or Swamp Gum
Red Mountain Ash, Woollybutt, Gum topped Stringybark
Jarrah
Karri
Murray River Red Gum
Brown Stringybark
Red Ironbark
Grey Ironbark
Narrow-leafed Ironbark
Tallow Wood
Spotted Gum.
CONIFERS.

Callitris & Frenela verrucosa
Dacrydium Franklinii (a)
Arthrotaxis selaginoides (a)
Phylocladus rhomboidalis (a)
Cypress Pine
Huon Pine
King William Pine
Celery-top Pine.


OTHER.

Acacia melanoxylon
Fagus Cunninghamii
Atherospherma moschata
Banksia sp.
Casuarina sp.
Blackwood
Myrtle
Sassafras

Oaks

(b) TROPICAL AND SUB-TROPICAL RAIN-FORESTS.-BROAD-LEAVED TREES.

Cedrela Toona var. australis
Flindersia Mazlini
Flindersia australis
Flindersia Ifflaiana
Gmelina Leichardtii
Castanospermum australis
Cryptocarya sp.
Syncarpia laurifolia
Cedar
Silkwood or Cedar
Crows Ash
Hickory
White Beech
Black Bean
Walnut
Turpentine

(c) CONIFERS OF THE EAST AND NORTH-EAST.

Araucaria Cunninghamii
" Bidwilli
Agathis Palmerstoni
Podocarpus elata
Hoop Pine
Bunya Pine
Queensland Kauri Pine
Brown Pine
(a) Confined to Tasmania.

(d) INTRODUCED SPECIES IN PLANTATION.

Excluding ornamental trees, the introduction of trees for forestry purposes is confined to conifers. South Australia took the first steps in this direction. The following species have been tried there and in other States:-

P. radiata (syn. insignis)
          " pinaster (syn. maritima)
          " halepensis
          " canariensis
          " ponderosa
          " nigra (syn. laricio)
          " palustris
          " taeda
          " muricata

          " caribaea
          Cedrus deodara

          " lebani and atlantica
          Pseudotsuga Douglasii
          Larix europea
          Sequoia gigantea and S. sempervirens
          Monterey Pine
          Cluster Pine
          Jerusalem Pine
          Canary Pine
          Yellow or Pondosa Pine
          Black Corsican Pine
          Longleaf Pine
          Loblolly Pine
          Bishop's Pine
          Slash Pine
          Cedar
          "
          Douglas Fir or Oregon
          Larch
          Redwood

Specimens of other pines and of spruce and firs may be seen in botanic gardens and in a few arboreta.

(iii) Area of Softwood Plantations. The area of the softwood plantations in Australia is of particular interest, in view of the large imports of these timbers. Queensland has now begun to import softwoods owing to the insufficiency of the local coniferous supply.

AREA OF SOFTWOOD PLANTATIONS. - AUSTRALIA, 1924 1925.


State.

New South Wales
Victoria
Queensland..
South Australia
Western Australia
Tasmania

Total
Area in Acres.

9,461
8,550
538
13,774
1,070
250

33,643

The bulk of these plantations
consists of Monterey Pine
(P. radiata), the rapid growth of which makes it a general favourite among arboriculturists.


This comparatively small area evidences the lack of foresight in previous years. The imports of softwoods to Australia in 1924-25 amounted to approximately 30,000,000 cubic feet, valued at 3,400,000, and show the urgent need for developing a home supply.

(iv) Sawn and Hewn Timber. While some of the States keep records of the volume of timber in the round that is converted, others furnish data as to sawn and hewn timber only. Thus in 1924-1925 the volume of sawn and hewn timber produced in each State was as follows:-


State.


New South Wales
Victoria
Queensland.
South Australia

Western Australia
Tasmania

Total
Cubic Feet to Sawn and Hewn Timber. 000 omitted

13,535
9,559
11,968
332

15,752
4,233

55,379

(includes pine converted from plantations)



(v) Mining Timber, Telegraph Poles, etc. Figures in regard to production are not complete for all States, but there is a heavy drain on the forests for this class of timber and frequently trees which if left to mature would provide quantities of valuable milling timber are sacrificed to make mine props, telegraph poles, or piles for harbour works. Marking of timber for felling is gradually being introduced, and this practice will result finally in the thinnings only being used for the purposes mentioned.

(vi) Firewood. The figures in regard to production of wood fuel are unsatisfactory. Except in the larger cities, wood is the common domestic fuel throughout Australia, but, while some important industries, such as the gold-mining industry in Kalgoorlie furnish accurate data, in other areas the production figures are purely estimates.

In 1923-1924, New South Wales used 18,054,500 cubic feet of wood fuel, or approximately 8 cubic feet per head of population, which, allowing for the coal used, appears small. Victoria used 20,140,000 cubic feet in 1920, or about 13 cubic feet per capita. Figures are not available for South Australia, Tasmania. and Queensland. Western Australia gives an accurate return of the wood fuel used on the principal mining fields to raise steam, etc. This amounted in 1920 to 708,146 tons and in 1925 to 555,573 tons, or approximately 18,315,000 cubic feet. No estimate is, however, made in regard to the domestic consumption of wood fuel, while the figures quoted respecting mine consumption are incomplete owing to the absence of information from some areas.

(vii) Sandalwood. Australia exports annually a considerable quantity of sandalwood, principally to China, where it is mostly converted into joss sticks, although larger pieces are used to make various ornaments. Western Australia supplies the bulk of the exports. Thus in 1924-25, out of a total of 6,664 tons valued at 205,477, 6,243 tons were exported from Western Australia, and the remaining 421 tons were exported from Queensland. In Western Australia there are sandalwood oil distilleries, in which during 1923-24, 463 tons of wood were utilized, while 39,873 worth of oil was exported.

(iii) Tan Barks. The situation in Australia in regard to tan barks is peculiar, inasmuch as supplies of wattle bark are now drawn from South Africa. The wattle established there is Acacia decurrens var. mollisima, and is indigenous to Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania. Seeds of this tree were tried some years ago in South Africa, and thrived so well that plantations were made in Natal, with the result that Australia now annually imports some 3,000 tons from this source. The estimated production of tan barks in Australia is 28,000 tons.

Figures showing imports, exports, and excess of imports of tan bark during each of the last three years are given hereunder:-


TAN BARK - TRADE IN, AUSTRALIA, 1922 TO 1925

Year
Imports
Exports
Excess of Imports
1921-22
1922-23
1923-24
1924-25.
cwt.
34,328
93,769
73,941
28,628

15,954
37,349
28,672
11,821
Cwt.
17,870
17,529
17,601
42,794

12,462
10,716
10,418
23,332
cwt.
16,458
76,240
56,340
-14,166

3,492
26,633
18,254
-11,511

NOTE.-The minus sign - denotes excess of exports.

As the figures show, there is an export of bark in each year as well as an import. In pre-war days and during the past two years the export consists largely of mallet bark from Western Australia. This bark is not so "kind" as wattle bark, and is therefore not used extensively in Australian tanneries, but is exported to Europe and other countries, where it is used for producing a tannin extract.

The statistics of imports do not give tannin extracts separately, so that it is impossible to apportion the value which should be added to that of the bark imports to arrive at the total local requirements. It is not known, moreover, to what extent mallet bark enters into the manufacture of the extracts imported.

A survey of the tannin-producing materials of Australia is being conducted by the Institute of Science and Industry, and, already, several barks have been found valuable, among them - ridge gum (E. alba), which is indigenous in Northern Australia and Papua, promises to become a commercial product.

(ix) Eucalyptus Oil. The distillation of eucalyptus oil is mainly carried on in Victoria and Tasmania. The oversea exports thereof during the last three years were valued as follows:-

EUCALYPTUS OIL EXPORTS - AUSTRALIA, 1922 TO 1925.

Year
1921-22
1922-23
1923-24
1924-25
Value
24,000
33,900
66,339
75,763

It may be noted also that large quantities of the crude oil are used locally in flotation processes on the mines.

(x) Gums, Kinos, and Resins. A variety of gums, kinos, and resins is obtainable in Australian forests, but with the exception of grass-tree gum, which is exported from South Australia and other States, there is very little trade in these minor products. The gum of several species of wattle is used as a substitute for gum arabic. The kino that exudes from Marri (E. callophylla) found in Western Australia, carries a heavy percentage of tannin, but, owing to the difficulty of decolourizing it, it is not used commercially to any great extent.

3. Oversea Trade in Forestry Products.

An examination of the oversea trade returns shows that Australian imports of dressed timber come chiefly from Norway and Sweden. The main supplies of undressed timber are of American origin, the United States contributing more than 18 million cubic feet in 1924-25 and Canada 2 million cubic feet. New Zealand contributed 3 million cubic feet, while Japan and Sweden are together responsible for a million feet. Then come Norway, Java, Malaya, India, and lastly, the United Kingdom, which sent 2,500 cubic feet, probably re-exports of cabinet woods. This large importation of timber, amounting to 26 /3 million cubic feet, valued at 3,000,000, consists mainly of soft woods. A certain quantity of cabinet woods reaches Australia, and Japan sends oak as well as pine; but 97 per cent. of the importation is derived from coniferous timber. New Zealand sends white pine for butter boxes, etc., and kauri. Canada and America send Douglas fir, redwood, yellow pine, etc., and red and white deals reach Australia from Norway and Sweden.

Australian exports of undressed timber amounted in 1924-25 to 11,000,000 cubic feet, mainly exported from Western Australia, the other States participating to the extent of 3 million cubic feet only. Without Western Australia's timber, the balance of imports would be extremely heavy. As it is, it amounted to over 3,000,000 in 1924-25. The Western Australian exports consist mainly of sleepers and railway scantling. Jarrah (E. marginata) is the principal timber exported, although karri (E. diversicolor) figures largely in the returns. The last-mentioned timber requires treating to render it durable, and is subjected to the process known as "powellizing." In three items only - architraves, palings, and laths - is there a balance of exports over imports, but the value is only 8,970.

Australian imports of paper and stationery in 1924-25 amounted to 6,845,778. The investigations by the Institute of Science and Industry into the pulping qualities of Australian hardwoods have shown that paper can be made therefrom on a commercial scale, and it is anticipated that private enterprise will embark on this industry. Not only would the paper-pulping industry help to adjust the balance of trade, but it would prove of great assistance to the forester, who at present finds it very difficult to dispose of thinnings.

4. Activities of Forestry Departments.

1. General. - Apart from the collection of revenue from rents, royalties, etc., sylvicultural operations having for their object the improvement of existing stands of timber and the regeneration of cut-over areas have been undertaken in all States. At first, through lack of knowledge of forestry, these operations were carried out on expensive and unsatisfactory lines, and tended to retard rather than to hasten forest growth. A large amount of money was spent on the cleaning up of the forest floor, the field officers' trying, as it were, to convert the forests into park lands. This destruction of shade supplying soil-cover had a very harmful effect on the forests. Moreover, large sums were spent in Victoria and in New South Wales on thinning the forests in such a manner as to get a minimum of good timber in a maximum of time. The stems, rather than the crowns were taken as the guide to the operation, and useful trees were removed at a high cost per acre, while no attempt was made to help the others in their fight for existence. These cleaned-up forests looked well, and photographs before and after thinning and floor cleaning impressed the uninitiated. With the advent of technically-trained foresters, sounder methods were instituted, and the field officers began to learn what scientific forestry means. The need of qualified men is, however, still pressing; progress is slow, and in places the old methods of so-called sylviculture are still in operation.

2. Officers Employed. - Some idea of the difficulties in effective administration confronting the Forestry Departments may be gathered from the following statement , in regard to the number of fully qualified forestry officers in each State, and in the Commonwealth Forestry Department : - New South Wales, nil; Victoria, 2; Queensland, 1; South Australia, 3; Western Australia, 8; Tasmania, nil; Commonwealth, 3; total, 17.

The establishment of efficient working plans is gradually taking shape, and systematic marking of trees for the mill or the hewer has been initiated. It is now recognized that it should not be left to the timber exploiter to decide what timber is to be cut, and what is to be reserved for future generations. Group selection methods of regeneration and sound forestry practice have been introduced in Western Australia, which State, as mentioned above, has the advantage of the largest number of technically-trained officers in the field.

The total number of employees in the various State Forestry Departments is as follows: - New South Wales, 442; Victoria, 166; Queensland, 262; South Australia, 164; Western Australia, 253; and Tasmania. 10.

3. Inquiries by Tariff Board. - During the course of the Tariff Board's inquiry into the subject of reforestation, officials of the States Forest Departments advocated the granting by the Federal Government of a subsidy to the States in the form of annual payments. In addition, an application was made on behalf of a proposed South Australian company, which, it was stated, intended to carry out afforestation on an extensive scale, for concessions in regard to Federal Land Tax on all areas planted, and a bounty on an acreage basis.

The destruction of indigenous forests, coupled with the failure to take adequate measures for reforestation, have at various times aroused emphatic protests. During the Board's investigations in connexion with timber duties, this subject was regarded as of national importance, and the opinion was expressed that both the Federal and State Governments should take steps to prevent the possible extinction of a great source of national wealth. Moreover, when the Inter-State Commission was dealing with the timber industry, in 1914-15, the subject of reforestation was brought forward, and was referred to as demanding immediate attention.

The Tariff Board advocated a conference between the Federal and State Governments, with a view to arriving at a common policy of afforestation either by co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States, or by the assumption by the Commonwealth - with the concurrence of the States - of responsibility for the protection and rehabilitation of the timber resources of Australia.

4. Forestry Education. - The urgent need for trained foresters has already been stressed. At each Inter-State Forestry Conference since 1917 the desirability was urged of establishing one first-rate school for the whole Commonwealth. All the State Departments were in agreement on the matter, but Governments did not take the necessary steps and, although a site was chosen and the contribution from each State was fixed, the National School was not founded. The Commonwealth Government, therefore, has assumed the responsibility of establishing the institution and paying the teaching staff, while the States have agreed to nominate a certain number of students annually. Applicants for entry to the Australian Forestry School must have completed a two years' science course at one of the universities. It is anticipated that the institution will supply the States with foresters qualified to undertake all necessary forestry work, and that it will constitute a nucleus of forest knowledge designed to develop on sound lines the sylviculture of Australia. The School is housed for the first year at the Adelaide University, but in March, 1927, it will be transferred to Canberra, the Federal capital city. The first students enrolled numbered eighteen. New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia all possess forestry schools which have served a useful purpose in supplying training to the field staffs. The standard, however, was not sufficiently high to turn out fully-qualified forestry officers, while it was perhaps a little too high for the ordinary officer. With the establishment of the Australian Forestry School, the usefulness of these schools will be increased, and their functions and standards can be more definitely fixed.

5. Forestry Legislation. - The laws governing the exploitation of Australian timber resources have been determined by the needs of the community. Originally the matter resolved itself into the securing of a revenue to the States from persons authorized to remove timber from Crown lands. A licence system was inaugurated under which persons engaged in the business paid fees and obtained permits covering a certain period. As time went on, and the demand for timber increased, saw-mills were established in greater number, and permits were issued covering long periods. In some cases, concessions were granted over very terms. The apparent object of the legislation was to assist the saw-miller to exploit as much as possible as quickly as possible. This state of affairs persisted until the vested interests created began to diminish in power and influence, and readily exploitable timber became so scarce as to make saw-milling on a large scale a hazardous undertaking. The small saw-miller then came to the fore again, and competition enabled the State to derive greater revenue from fees and charges. The rapid exhaustion of the timber supplies, and the outcry raised against land settlement in forest country, finally caused the legislatures to pass long overdue Forestry Acts, with the object of conserving and regenerating their forest resources. It is to be feared, however, that in consequence of the lack of expert advice, much of the legislation failed to achieve its purpose.

The Acts provided for various methods of control and administration, but it is to Western Australia that the credit is due of introducing the important principle of the inviolability of a forestry working plan. A scientific working plan connotes a detailed scheme under which the forest area is to be worked for a period of years, and, to be effective, its continuity must be safeguarded by legislation. This safeguard was provided in the Western Australian Act, and has since been introduced in the Forestry Acts of Victoria and Tasmania. Next in importance is the provision of funds to enable the forest work to be carried on continuously. There is a natural aversion from the making of a present sacrifice for the benefit of future generations, and it is therefore necessary to provide the requisite funds by special legislation. Thus, in New South Wales and Tasmania there is provision for placing half the timber revenue in a special fund to be expended on forestry purposes only. Victoria also provides for a special forestry fund. Western Australia provides that three-fifths of the net timber revenue is to be expended on forestry. Queensland and South Australia, however, rely on annual appropriations in the estimates. In some States the policy has been initiated of bringing about the permanent dedication of land to forest purposes by giving the Government power under a Forestry Act to dedicate a prescribed area within a certain period. This has in some instances had the unfortunate result that useless land from a forestry standpoint has been hurriedly dedicated to conform with the provisions of the Act.

Provision is also made to protect dedicated forest land, thereby making its alienation difficult. As a rule, an amending Act or a motion by both Houses of Parliament is required to revoke the dedication of a forest reserve.

Regulations under the Queensland Act provide for the sale of forest produce by auction or tender. A similar proviso was introduced into the Western Australian regulations, and later on was adopted by New South Wales. A fair price is thereby ensured to the State for its timber and other forest products. The licence system is admissible only in the case of scattered products, such as tan barks or gums, where the expense of supervision of exploitation would be prohibitive. Wherever close supervision is possible, it is more advantageous to sell the forest products at the best price obtainable, and this is most satisfactorily ascertainable by the tender or the auction system.

6. Fire Control. - Fire control constitutes a very serious problem, and clauses have been inserted from to time in proposed Forestry Bills to prohibit the setting fire to forests and to provide for assistance to extinguish fires when discovered. Parliaments invariably have refused assent to such clauses. In Western Australia, however, good results have been arrived at by introducing stringent measures of protection under the Bush Fires Act. In declared areas in this State fires cannot be lit unless a permit has been obtained. Effective fire control, however, depends on skilled attention to the forest rather than on legislation. Where the forests are scientifically managed, with foresters resident therein, and skilled employees engaged in sylvicultural work, the danger of fire is reduced to one of simple control. The dissipation of departmental resources over a wide area, instead of being concentrated on the forests that are being scientifically worked, is largely responsible for the damage to forests by fire. Western Australia, owing to well-organized forest control, lost a negligible area of forest in l926, but the loss sustained by both New South Wales and by Victoria was serious, and included large areas of coniferous plantations as well as hardwood forests which had been sylviculturally treated at great expense.


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