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A History of Innovation

HAND drawn maps of the 1920s, aerial photography pioneered in 1930, 21st Century laser technology and ground breaking scientific research on forestry methods are detailed in a new book launched today.

A History of Innovation: Eighty-five Years of Research and Development at Forestry Tasmania has been compiled by Humphrey Elliott, Ken Felton, Jean Jarman and Martin Stone and covers the period from 1921 to 2006.

The book shows the operational and strategic impact science has had on forestry and will be a valuable resource for Forestry Tasmania staff and anyone with an interest in silviculture.

It outlines developments in scientific and technical information and the creative thinking that has made forestry a major and sustainable part of the Tasmanian economy and is a tribute to the operational, research and support staff who have worked over many decades to continuously improve knowledge of Tasmanian forests.

It will be used mainly by current and future FT staff to understand what has happened in the past and why.

The book details the history of mapping forests, assessment of wood volumes and species and the predicting of stand growth which have been important in the development of sustainable harvesting.

It also highlights the importance of the Forestry Act 1920 and establishment of the Tasmanian Forestry Department on January 1, 1921 in the development a systematic approach to conserving and developing state forests, with the first forests maps and working plans for state forests developed in 1922.

The book documents the continual progress made since then, including air photo interpretation which was one of the most significant advances. In 1930 Tasmania was the first place in Australia where aerial photography was used for a forest survey.

It was major step forward in classifying and forests. Prior to that people had to walk through the bush to do really labour intensive surveys.

An example of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of FT staff was that in the 1940s and 1950s they used old X-rays from the Royal Hobart Hospital as templates to join aerial photographs together.

The development of harvesting and regeneration methods for a wide range of forest types had a significant and positive impact on forestry. More recently variable retention harvesting methods have been developed and the Warra Long-Term Ecological Research Site has become the focal point for forest conservation research in Tasmania.

Other significant developments include the soil dryness index which was developed in the 1970s and is still used, not only by Forestry Tasmania but also by other organisations.

And the Forestry Inventory Projection System (FIPS) has been a revolutionary step forward that is still at the forefront of technology available today.


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