Brian commenced studies at the VSF in 1954, following both his father and an uncle as students at the school. Brian's father Kingsley (Ken) entered the VSF in 1929, subsequently being based at Bendigo, Forrest, Nathalia, Erica, Stawell, Daylesford (as DFO), Delatite, Mansfield (as DFO), Bairnsdale (as Asst. Div. For), and Traralgon (as Asst. Div. For.). Brian’s Uncle, Colin, entered the VSF in 1931, and he died during WW2.
Gerald (Gerry) Griffin entered the VSF Creswick in 1942. His first posting with the Commission, in 1945, was to the Assessment Branch; then to the Bruthen District followed by the Corryong Sub-district of the Upper Murray Forest District.
In 1951 he was promoted to District Forester in charge of the Casterton District. Further DFO appointments were to Maffra (Briagolong) in 1951, Nowa Nowa in 1954 and Orbost in 1959.
….. both of which were basic to the forestry story some decades ago. Some of us can relate to either or both; whether stuffing straw into hessian paillasses at the School of Forestry and ex- prisoner-of-war camps, or at the Macedon nursery learning the basics of nursery practice, including the placing of crock from broken pots into new pots before putting in soil for seedlings.
KG Harrop, the author of this article, is the newly appointed Divisional Forester to Central Division. His qualifications are Diploma of Forestry Creswick and Diploma of Forestry Victoria. In answer to a request by the editorial staff he has written this account of his work since he left the school. Few people outside the forestry profession really know what a forester does, and it is for these reasons that this article is presented.
John was one of 88 persons interviewed in 1993 by Greg Borschmann in an oral history project of persons involved with Australia’s forests and woodlands (The People’s Forest). I have drawn on my father’s tapes for much of the following account.
He was born in Riga, Latvia in 1910 to Estonian parents. His father had wanted him to follow in his footsteps and study theology, but did not enforce his view when John said he wanted to pursue forestry. He chose forestry because he developed a love for life in the country, having spent most of his long summer school holidays on farms of his relatives in Estonia, some of whom were foresters.
He said it was an exciting era for forestry in Latvia after 1918, when the former private forests under disparate ownership were consolidated into the public estate and brought under sustainable management. John enrolled at Riga’s university in 1931 in forest science, a 4 ½ year course, and graduated in May 1940 after interruptions from a voluntary break taken after 2 years and then military training. They were turbulent times because the Soviets occupied Latvia in June 1940. There were political purges and many locals in positions of importance were transported to Russia and replaced by Russian immigrants.
"Let us regard the forest as an inheritance, not to be destroyed or devastated, but to be wisely used, reverently honoured and carefully maintained. Let us regard the forest as a gift, entrusted to any of us only for transient care, to be surrendered to posterity as an unimpaired property, increased in riches and augmented in blessings, to pass as a sacred patrimony from generation to generation."
Baron Ferdinand von Mueller - Suggestions on the Maintenance, Creation and Enrichment of Forests (1879)