"The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays to shape what we are and what we do."
Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia, Inaugural Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture, August 1996.

Big Pictures

  • APMF - Timeline

    APM Forests - Timeline

    R McCarthy (bio)



    The development of the Australian paper industry and the Victorian forest industry are intrinsically linked. The research undertaken to use short fibred eucalypt pulps to replace imported long fibred softwood pulp in the 1930’s represented a major technological triumph for Australia. What began in 1868 on the banks of Melbourne’s Yarra River, today contributes over nine hundred million dollars annually to Australia’s gross domestic product.

  • Fire - Big Picture

    Forest Fire History - A Timeline

    Mike Leonard (bio) 


    "In early pioneering days in this State, the fires which were inevitably associated with the clearing of land for agricultural and pastoral purposes caused comparatively little damage except to valuable stands of timber, but forest destruction in these days was regarded with complete equanimity and indeed was welcomed as desirable. When land was allotted for selection it was a condition of tenure that the settler should within a stipulated period clear a certain proportion of his land, the destruction of the forest crop thereon being credited to him as improvements to the property. The usual procedure adopted was to ringbark all the larger trees, fell the smaller ones, slash the scrub and undergrowth, and allow the accumulation of dead material to dry. Then on the first suitable hot, dry and preferably windy day the whole of this mass of inflammable debris was touched off with a match. Provided he was successful in obtaining a clean burn on his own land, the settler was not concerned about the subsequent destination of the fire or its possible ultimate consequences, with the result that his operations were a constant source of danger to the forests and adjacent settlers." 1


    The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission final report states that ‘…Fifty-two significant bushfires have been recorded in Victoria since 1851, two-thirds of them in the past sixty years…’ (Volume 1, page 2)

    The Report also stated: ‘…On the basis of the evidence presented, the Commission concluded that Victoria has a range of characteristics that predispose it to bushfires generally and to the occasional ferocious bushfire in particular. There are few other locations in the world with similar characteristics…’ (Volume 1, page xxiv)

  • Fire Aviation - Big Picture

    Forty Years of Aviation and Forest Fire

    Bryan Rees, 2014 (bio) 

    This article is based upon a talk Bryan gave to FCRPA Members in 2014. Access a PDF of the article here.

    If you are interested in this article then you should also have a look at this article by Bryan, and this Wikipedia article.

    Mike Leonard wanted me to talk about comparisons of working for nearly 40 years in aviation. What’s changed?

    With regards to what hasn’t changed, I want to set a scene for some of you. Last Wednesday I was in a rappel helicopter from Buller flying low level, door open, clear NE day and the vista around me showed some of the most charismatic names in remote Victoria - the Bluff, the Razor, the Crosscut Saw, Terrible Hollow – this was my morning vista – some things don’t change, it’s still wondrous and I watched the eyeballs of our Canadian exchangee pop out of her head when she saw it.

  • Forest Assessment - Big Picture

    Assessment of the Forest Resource

    Roger Smith (bio) 

    Assessment is the act of making a judgement or deciding the amount, value, quantity or importance of a resource.

    For many young foresters, starting out on their career by joining the Assessment Branch/Section for a few years was regarded as a Rite of Passage, an early stage in their career whereby they gained experience in exploring and walking through the often unmapped and trackless bush, marking a transition to a different and more permanent stage of their career.

  • Forestry Aviation - Big Picture

    Forestry Aviation

    Bryan Rees (bio)

    If you are interested in this article then you should also have a look at this articleby Bryan.

    Aircraft have been used extensively in Victoria for forestry, and particularly forest fire operations, since 1930.

  • Plantation - Big Picture

    A Chronology
    The Victorian Government's Century in Plantations

    David Williams, 2018 (bio)


    Understanding the Government’s Century in Plantations

    The Government’s more than a century in plantations included many achievements, as well as a number of disappointments and shortcomings. Overall the government’s plantation story was significantly successful.

    There were many successes including:

    • Early statement and consistent affirmation of a policy of establishing plantations. Initially the goals were to rehabilitate land cleared in the 1850’s gold rushes, provide timber and avoid cost and unreliability of imported timber, generate revenue and create jobs through local sawmills. Commercial financial returns became a more important objective following increased investment with the plantations expansion program.
    • A record of achieving planting targets which aimed to meet Victoria’s future timber needs.
    • There were significant advances in technology, equipment and practices resulting from effective research and development.
    • There were a number of successful, energetic personalities that overcome many challenges.
  • The Big Picture

    The Evolution of Legislated Obligations for Forest Areas in Victoria

    A Summary
    Andy Beveridge (bio) & Mike Leonard (bio)


    The story of the progressive removal of Victoria's forests, and the evolution of legislative and bureaucratic strategies to better understand, and to protect what remained, and to facilitate sustainable timber harvesting and fire management mirrors, and at times impacts significantly on the economic and social history of the Colony/State.

    Pastoral squatting in the 1840s, gold rushes of the 1850s, a succession of Land Acts in the 1860s (which were designed in part to ‘...facilitate the alienation of the waste lands of the Crown...’), and the continued expansion of the transport network all combined, by the early 1900s, to produce a geographic distribution of forests that is similar to that of today. It was in 1907 with the passing of the Forests Act, and in 1908 with the creation of a State Forests Department, that the first significant steps were made towards the conservation of the State's forests. That task continued and expanded during the 1900s.

    What follows is a brief history of that evolutionary process.