Eric was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1922. He attended Ballarat High School, and graduated from the Victorian School of Forestry in 1942, and received his BSc (1944) and MSc (1951) from the University of Melbourne. He achieved a PhD in Forestry in 1953 from Yale University, where he was president of his class. He was awarded an honorary PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1987.
After graduation from the VSF he worked for the FCV at Neerim South, in Assessment, Fire Protection and then Research before moving to CSIRO in 1948.
He moved to the USA in 1957 to work with the US Forest Products Laboratory as a wood technologist/professor at the University of California at Berkeley. He went to the School of Forest Resources (now the College of Natural Resources) at North Carolina State University in 1961, first as professor and then as department head of Pulp and Paper Science. In 1971 he became Dean of the School, where he served until he retired in 1989.
His later career was devoted to program development and betterment of forest and natural resource research and management, as well as strategic policies at the state, national, and international levels. He was active in several professional societies and task forces during his career, holding leadership positions in many of them. His contributions were recognized by many awards and distinctions, including the Fulbright Fellowship, Sheffield Fellow, Forest Products Wood Award, Forestry Award, and the NC Forestry Association's Man of the Year (1983).
We were young Creswick forestry students, “new” in every sense of the word. On Saturday mornings we would be listed for various fieldwork jobs, often in the demonstration mixed species forest adjoining the forestry school grounds.
On this day, each of us was issued with a shiny coloured (mine was yellow) hard hat and a sharp new axe. This, for me, was not just any old axe. It was a Plumb axe. And it was mine. It was forged and crafted as a thing of potent power, but also a tool that could be associated with risk of injury if your footing slipped or your swing missed its target. It was a tool built by craftsmen for use by fellow craftsmen. I had inherited the essence of caring for hand tools from my father’s wisdom.
Written in 2016
Editors Note: This article by Euan Ferguson is, in Euans' words, "completely fictional. I wrote it one tired night whilst doing the Overland Track in Tasmania. During that day we'd seen a number of dead and fallen pencil pines that seemed to have an anti-clockwise spiral texture on the sapwood. The group asked me what caused this spiraling. I have no idea what causes it, so I made up this story.
Whilst a fictional story, it nevertheless contains some interesting and challenging messages for readers, natural resource managers, politicians and the wider community as follows:-
This article has been developed using extracts of Bill's story published by 485 Squadron, RAAF
After a short period in Head Office, Bill was called up for compulsory military service for a couple of months with a CMF Engineers Unit at Trawool near Seymour. He then returned to the FCV Head Office. About this time Bill, and his brother Jack who was also a Forest Officer, tried to enlist in the Air Force, but Forestry had been declared a Reserved Occupation, so their applications were refused. Eventually, Jack was allowed to join the RAAF and later still, Bill was also permitted to join on leave from the FCV.
In the meantime, after a short period in Head Office to become familiar with office procedures and personnel, Bill was posted to the Neerim South Forest District. After a short period Bill became Assistant Forester at the Toorongo Sub-District, which was the centre for some extensive timber salvage operations following the 1939 bushfires. There were five sawmills, other operators felling the killed trees into logs that couldn't be utilized immediately but had to be carted into dumps and covered with water to preserve them for future use. There were two camps, one for road construction and one for timber salvage operations.
A eucalypt seed is a truly remarkable thing. In most eucalypt species, an individual seed is around the size of a grain of sand. And yet the Genus includes, among its ranks, the tallest flowering plants on Earth, with individual trees well over 100 metres in height being recorded.
In the late 1700s/early 1800s, newcomers to the continent, that would come to be known as Australia, encountered flora and fauna that were unknown to ‘science’. First peoples who, over millennia, had built-up a detailed knowledge of the ecosystems they lived among, and moved between, saw their expertise largely ignored by the rush of new arrivals who were driven, initially at least, by survival in a seemingly hostile environment, and later by gold-fever.
"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)