"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.

Establish State Forests

On the 25th of October 1865 the Surveyor-General, the Assistant Commissioner of Lands and Survey, and the Secretary for Mines submitted a report to both Houses of Parliament entitled "The Advisableness of Establishing State Forests."

Extracts from the Report are provided below;

"When acting as Commissioners appointed to enquire into applications for land under the 42nd section of the "Amending Land Act 1865,'' our attention was directed in many places to the rapid and unnecessary destruction of forests in the neighborhood of the gold fields ; and we have thought fit to recommend that some applications for blocks within the natural forests should not be entertained."

"We believe that much of the prosperity now so evident on the gold fields of Victoria, is due to the circumstance that claimholders and lessees of Crown lands have the opportunity of procuring timber from the indigenous forests at small cost. They require wood, both for underground operations and for engines; and it has been ascertained that any considerable increase in the price of timber would cause works to be abandoned as unprofitable, which now yield to the miner considerable sums over and above the cost of working. A great number of persons employ themselves in cutting timber for the mines. They fell the best, and destroy more than they use, consequently there is unnecessary waste." 

"Here, where we employ about 85,000 miners in mines which, year by year, demand for their advantageous working large supplies of timber, it is right to endeavor to prevent waste. Now that the gold miner is becoming better acquainted with the mode of extracting gold from pyrites, it is probable that furnaces will be erected in all the parts of the colony where quartz reefs occur; and if there be not ready for his use good and abundant supplies of timber, his enterprise will be checked."

"We would suggest that you should proclaim, as early as practicable, an extension of the large forest reserve already made in the vicinity of Ballarat, so as to protect the forests on and north of the Dividing Range; and cause to be proclaimed near Sandhurst, Castlemaine, Ararat, Maryborough, Inglewood, Beechworth, and other centres of mining industry, similar large reserves."

"We would recommend further that some suitable large area should be selected south-west of Rokewood, with a view to the establish,nent of a large wood of indigenous and imported trees on the present treeless basaltic plains..."

"Perhaps the best course would be, to vest the reserves in trustees,....."

"The trustees would ........ prepare and promulgate rules for the guidance of woodmen; and generally exercise immediate control over state forests and the expenditure of the funds derived from the sale of timber therein."

Contact the Editor