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El Arish North Queensland

Places, Faces and Events of an Historical Soldier Settlement town

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Forestry in NQ

November 23, 1918
In pursuance of the Government's policy of forest development, the Acting Director of Forests (Mr. E.H.F. Swain) was despatched recently to the North by the Minister for Lands (Mr. J. H. Coyne) on a special mission of inquiry into forestry and timber trade matters generally. In commenting upon the results of the inquiry last week, Mr. Coyne remarked that the Queensland forests were the cabinet wood forests of Australia, but of all this State's timber   possessions the most precious were those of the North, where cedar, maple, silky oak, kauri, and many others of our unique timbers commanded today some of the highest timber prices in the world. Despite the far remove from market, these species were worth up to 30/ per 100 sup., feet on the stump, and any acre of accessible standing scrub could be valued at £10 for the trees alone.   Unfortunately for the community, however, most of these valuable forests were made available for selection years ago, before a timber trade was developed, and the wastage has been tremendous. Nevertheless, the mere stumpage or royalty value   of the timber exports from Cairns must be well over £50,000 a year, although owing to the fact that most of it comes from the alienated lands the Crown's share was only about £3000. Mr. Coyne remarked that most of the extremely fertile areas which have been alienated in the North belonged inevitably to agriculture rather than sylvi-culture,   but the valuable timber resource   they carried need never have been lost to the community had the possibilities of the timber industry as a preliminary form of settlement been foreseen. While agriculture and mining, however, were recognised as permanent industries, and the men employed thereon afforded the right to make permanent homes, the forests had been looked upon as ephemeral things of no account to be destroyed   or plundered, the timber worked was   not accorded a place in the community, timber-getting degenerated into treasure seeking, and much of our national forest asset was dissolved into smoke and ashes or had been bartered away by selectors for a song. Mr. Coyne stated that he intended to put forestry on a proper footing as a form of settlement yielding a necessary commodity and providing permanent occupation for a considerable section of the community. In the North, as elsewhere, the forest service would   undertake direct management of its State forests, and forest surveyors were now engaged in demarcating suitable areas of timber for retention. Under the organ ised forest scheme provision would be made for forest stations, whereat would be located forest nurseries, forest   paddocks, sawmill sites,etc and, not least,     permanent homes for forest workers. Considerable forest engineering work would be undertaken as soon as arrange ments could be made to do so. In view of the prospective competition from abroad it was essential that the most modern methods should be adopted at the earliest possible date. The Acting Director of Forests was now going into the   whole matter. Regarding the possible effect of   renewed importations after the war, Mr. Coyne Baid that it would be two or three years after peace was declared   before the full effects were felt, and by that time the resources of Queensland would be considerably less than they were today. The position was that we had not   retained sufficient of our forests to provide for ourselves, and must import   timber for ordinary purposes. Queensland, however, had less to fear from   foreign competition than any other State, inasmuch as her timbers were mostly cabinet woods for which there was no imported equivalent, while the extension of rotary cutting for ply-wood, etc, instead of wasteful sawmilllng, would always ensure a sound market for our wares.
1918 'FORESTRY IN NORTH QUEENSLAND.', The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939), 23 November, p. 12, viewed 20 November, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22367040

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