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Research Guides

Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


Due to the high demand for timber from the beginning of European settlement and the lack of native forests due to low local rainfall, plantation forestry has been an important industry for South Australia since the late 1870s. The Wirrabara and Bundaleer forest reserves in the south-east are widely known as the birthplace of plantation forestry in Australia.

Extensive areas of radiata pines were planted in the early 1900s, and pines are still one of the major sources of timber in the 21st century. The south-east has an extensive wood-processing industry that is the largest regionally based manufacturing facility in South Australia. Smaller but locally significant industries also exist in Adelaide, the Mount Lofty Ranges, the mid-north and on Kangaroo Island.

The Commonwealth Forestry Bureau was established in 1927. The Forestry Bureau Act (No.16 of 1930) gave the bureau a statutory basis and a variety of responsibilities including the management of forests placed under its control by the Governor-General, establishment of experimental stations for the study of forest management and protection, provision of educational facilities for the training of professional foresters, establishment and awarding of forestry scholarships, and publication of reports and bulletins dealing with forestry.

Expansion of the bureau was interrupted by World War II. Towards the end of the war it was decided to enlarge the scope of the bureau by amalgamating it with the Commonwealth Timber Control Office. Statutory recognition was given under the Forestry and Timber Bureau Act 1946. This Act was designed to extend the functions of the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau so it could advise on matters affecting the supply of timber. The war and its aftermath had decisively demonstrated Australia's inability to meet its essential timber requirements and had given prominence to well-founded doubts as to how long the existing standards of timber production could be maintained.

In 1975, the forestry research function was absorbed into the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The remaining functions of the bureau were taken over by the Department of Primary Industry, Central Office in 1978 under the title of Forestry Branch.

Records held by the Archives relating to forestry in South Australia include field notes, pricing regulation files and photographs.

Selected series that contain records relating to forestry in South Australia
Recorded by: Commonwealth Forestry Bureau/Forestry and Timber Bureau
Field and working notes for forest experiments, 1933–54 A13255
Recorded by: State Deputy Prices Commissioner, South Australia
Prices regulation, administrative and policy files, investigation cases and financial statement/trading result files, 1939–48 AP5/1
Selected items relating to forestry in South Australia
Forestry – South Australia, 1926–38 A461, D346/1/2
Timber wood pulping industry in South Australia, 1939–41 A461, X325/1/20
Investigations – South Australia – timber, 1928 CP211/2, 38/11
Photograph of migrants in employment in Australia – pine forests – far south-east of South Australia, 1958 A12111, 1/1958/16/307
Importation of timber licences issued, returns to Administrative Officer and Forestry and Timber Bureau, 1948–52 D596, 1948/4832
Hardwood timber – approved prices – CT Heuzenroeder and Sons, Millicent, 1947 AP5/1, 1947/11176


Chapter 14
Primary industries and natural resources