1851 to 1940s/50s
State of Victoria proclaimed.
Destructive Clearing - the discovery of gold in Victoria led to the destructive clearing of forests causing adverse impacts including loss of productive forests, widespread erosion and proliferation of weed infestations.
Need for Plantations Recognised - Boards of Inquiries recognise the need for plantations of broadleaved and coniferous species to generate revenue, provide softwood timber to replace imports and support jobs in local mills.
First Nursery - Macedon nursery was established to raise plants for plantations - initial emphasis was on broadleaved species but Radiata & Nigra pines were also planted.
Early Environmental Plantations & Employment for Miners - Plantings at Macedon were extended and new plantation projects were commenced at Creswick (1888) and the You Yangs (1889) to rehabilitate land eroded by mining, and to provide work for miners who were unemployed following the decline in gold production. The plantings, of mainly commercial softwood species, were also to produce softwood timber to reduce the volume of imported timber.
More Nurseries - nurseries were established at Sawpit Gully (Creswick) nursery in 1888 and Havelock, Gunbower Island & You Yangs in 1888-90.
Plantation Management Regimes - plantation management regimes were adopted initially for hardwood plantations but also applied for exotic softwoods. Regimes were based on 2.4 metre * 2.4 metre spacing and multiple thinnings aimed at yielding final crop trees from which high quality round and sawn timbers could be produced. The regime continues to underpin Radiata Pine silviculture in Victoria.
– the Government commissioned a Report on the State Forests of Victoria (1896)
by Inspector General Ribbentrop, Indian Forest Service to review and make recommendations on Victorian forestry. His comprehensive report concluded, among many matters, that there was merit in establishing softwood plantations but cautioned against broadcast introduction of Pinus insgnis
because whilst fast growing, he considered the wood to be of “low character”.
A Forests Act – the first Forests Act created a new Forests Department, under Conservator of Forests Mackay, and supported the establishment of plantations over the following decade.
Victorian School of Forestry established at Creswick to train foresters to manage Victoria's forests.
New Conifer Nursery at Creswick – the new nursery employing larger scale “production line” techniques was a significant advance, successfully producing large numbers of hardy seedlings at low cost thus avoiding the undesirable previous practice of broadcast seeding. Continued seedling losses from grazing animals required expensive fencing of newly planted areas. The large cost adversely affected the rate of plantation expansion.
Early Failed Plantations – by the early 1900’s there were extensive coastal areas which were not suitable for farming. Some of these areas were tried for plantations. New plantations were established at Frankston and Harcourt (1910), French Island (1911), Wilsons Promontory (1913), Bright (1916), Port Campbell (1919), Anglesea (1923) and Mount Difficult (1925). Virtually all of these areas totalling more than 10,000 ha failed. This highlighted the importance of pre-requisite site assessment surveys which became the norm in subsequent new projects.
Need to Increase Plantings - Conservator of Forests Mackay affirmed the need to lift the annual planting rate, particularly for conifers.
Forests Commission Victoria established. One of a number of principles governing its formation was the establishment of adequate plantations of exotic softwood species.
State Cooperation and Commonwealth Funding – the Interstate Conference on Forestry attended by all State forests departments advocated co-operation between the States to establish a national plantation estate funded by the Commonwealth Government. This became a reality more than 40 years later under the Softwood Forestry Agreements Act.
FCV Target – the FCV stated its policy to increase softwood plantations and set a target for the estate of 80,000 ha.
School Plantation Scheme – the scheme was formalised with the FCV providing plants free of charge and foresters to provide advice and assistance with the establishment and management of school plantations.
FCV Plantation Policy – the FCV stated its policy to increase softwood plantations.
Private Plantations – the first significant areas of private softwood plantations were established by bond selling companies in south west Victoria in the late 1920’s. Private plantation establishment over the following three decades was largely confined to three companies – APM Forests Pty Ltd, South Australian Perpetual Forests Ltd (SAPFOR) and Softwood Holdings Ltd.
Douglas Fir – the first plantings of Douglas fir occurred in the Otway Ranges.
Jobs Planting Trees – The Rural Relief Fund was established to provide employment during the Depression. Employment relief included establishing softwood plantations. Planting increased in 1931 to 92ha which was a three fold increase on the previous year. The higher rate continued through the decade. Main existing plantations at Macedon, Creswick, Scarsdale, Myrtleford and Bright were expanded, and new plantations were commenced at Beech Forest, Narbethong and Noojee (Loch Valley). Rural Relief Funds were terminated in 1938. By that time the total area of softwood plantations had grown to 18,000 ha.
New Paper Mill – Australian Paper Manufactures (APM) constructed a pulp and paper mill at Maryvale to be supplied with pulpwood from surrounding public native forests.
APM Supply Forests Burnt
- APM's public native forest supply area was burnt in the 1939 fires, just two years after the mill was constructed thus creating pulpwood supply uncertainty.
Fire Losses – about 4,400ha of FCV softwood plantation was destroyed by the fires, principally at Narbethong, Noojee and Bright.
1940s & 1950s
Slow Down - slowdown in plantation expansion occurred due to the War initially, then labour shortages, lack of money and the increasing costs post-war. Plantations at Rennick were modestly expanded and a new project was commenced to plant cleared land which had been acquired by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission at Delatite Arm, Lake Eildon.
Need for Plantations Timber – the post-war reconstruction boom resulted in tight supplies of timber for housing, and demonstrated the need for timber from plantations in the future to supplement the supply of hardwood timber from native forests.