By mid-1992, the "mega" land and natural resource management Department in Victoria had been in existence for some eight years, and had undergone its third name change, becoming known as the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Victoria’s publicly-owned plant nurseries, which had been incorporated into the original "mega" agency had, in 1986, and as part of a strategy to improve nursery marketing and operational cost effectiveness, commenced trading corporately under the "Vicflora" name. A nursery Board of Management had been established at the same time, but it had apparently ceased meeting in 1989.
In the years that the nurseries had been part of CFL/DCE/CNR several separate reviews of their operation had been undertaken. In mid-late 1991, the then Director of the Department’s Regional Management Division conducted what was described at the time as being the "definitive nursery review" which, among other things, was to set the business’ charter for several subsequent years at least.
At the time the Vicflora business, with an annual plant production of around 10 million units, was being described as the largest plant nursery organisation operating in the country, and about 60% of Vicflora’s production was being used by CNR in public land programs.
In early 1992 I became involved in assisting with the implementation of the recently completed ‘definitive review’. I was fortunate to work closely with a full-time project officer, who had previously been employed by Victoria’s peak, private sector nursery association. The information set out below relates to that time, and in particular, to a Vicflora draft Business Plan that was circulated within CNR in March 1993.
The need to establish forest nurseries was a part of the thinking of forestry staff in Victoria from at least as early as the 1860s.
This article is intended to provide an overview of the development and use of forest nurseries managed within the government sector. This section provides a quick summary of the developments, but below you can scroll through extracts from Annual Reports, and some additional comments, that will give you a more detailed picture of what occurred. Apart from many nurseries, local or regional, being a key component of the State's plantation and reforestation programs, it should not be overlooked that nurseries like Wail and Creswick, in particular, were the source for significant plantings for conservation and amenity purposes in all areas of the State. The Victorian landscape, particularly in the north and west of the State has benefited enormously from the seedlings grown and distributed widely from these places. During the 1960s, and into the 1970s, the FCV also oversaw the management of three nurseries associated with prisons which were aligned with significant hardwood reforestation programs.
"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)