Seventh Conference – 1957, Australia and New Zealand

This conference was convened at Adelaide in South Australia, on 26th August, moved later to Canberra, the Commonwealth capital, and concluded at Whakarewarewa in New Zealand on 10th October. The presidents were the two Ministers responsible  for  forest  policy – the  Honourable  Allen  Fairhall  in  Auslralia  and the Honourable S. W. Smith in New Zealand. Mr. G. J. Rodger, of the Australian Forest Service, was the chairman throughout.

There was a strong representation from all the major Commonwealth countries, and particularly from those in the South Pacific region. Every Australian state sent a delegation, and so did Fiji, Borneo, Sarawak and Malaya. The all-Commonwealth institutions represented were the Commonwealth Forestry Institute and the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau, both having headquarters at Oxford University, and the Commonwealth Forestry Association.  Observers attended from F.A.O. and the United States of America.

The tours began in the enormous and highly successful man-made forests of sub-tropical pines that have been established on arid lands in South Australia. These plantations are now in full production and give a sound economic return, besides meeting the need for a local supply of raw material. A complex of modern sawmills and related utilisation plants has been  built up, and the whole serves as a model to the other countries with alike  climate, particularly  the  African lands, which are a stage or two behind in similar developments.

Around Canberra, in the high mountains, the tourists were very interested in the role of indigenous forests as conservers of water supply. The rain and snow that fall on these uplands is of prime importance to the farming and grazing territories on the vast plains to the west. Plans were already being made for diversion schemes to turn streams from their steep east ward fall into the Pacific Ocean, to a westerly course down the Murrumbidgee River. These diversions are associated with controlling dams and hydro-electric plants, and it is essential that their effectiveness shall not be jeopardized by soil erosion that would fill up the reservoirs. This is a new key role for the native forests of upland eucalyptus species.

In New Zealand the delegates were shown the enormous expansion of softwood production on  the North  Island,  which  has led to the  building of sawmills and a huge new paper mill. The most modern plant is being used for harvesting the increasing yield from pinewoods – many of which had been started as a rather uncertain commercial enterprise by private companies only thirty years before. The problems of conserving the indigenous forests of unusual conifers, such as the Kauri pine, were also discussed. These woods have only a slow increment of commercial timber, but are of unique value to scientists studying natural plant associations: they also attract tourists and lovers of the wilderness. The scale and scope of New Zealand’s research into forestry and the use of forest products greatly impressed the delegates from other lands.

The cultivation of exotics was a major theme of this meeting, and the substance of the discussions and papers presented was eventually brought together in book form. This book is entitled Exotic Trees in the British Commonwealth, written by R. J. Streets under the editorship of Professor Sir Harry Champion, and published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford at 63s. A substantial work of some 800 pages, with many plates and maps. It is sure to remain a classic in this field.

Excerpt from:
Commonwealth Forestry Conferences: 1920 to 1962
H.L. Edlin
The Commonwealth Forestry Review
Vol 46, No 3 (129) (September, 1967), pp 192-200 (10 pages) Published by the Commonwealth Forestry Association