An association of employees of the former State Forests Department/Forests Commission formed primarily for social purposes and to collect, preserve and maintain forest memorabilia and to establish and maintain a Forestry Heritage Museum.

Our collection

Forestry Heritage Museum (2003)

This collection is housed in the Forestry Heritage Museum which is located in the historic precinct on Ford Street, Beechworth. The Museum is in the 'Gold Warden?s Office', one of the town's original buildings, which served for many years as the Forests Commission's District Office for Beechworth. The Museum was officially opened in July 2003. The collection was established to show how Victoria's forests were administered, managed and protected. It is managed by volunteers from the Forests Commission Retired Personnel Association [Vic.] Inc. Collection items include: hand tools used by farmers and timber workers to fell trees and to make shingles (for roofing) and palings for fences before the days of chain-saws items used to survey forest boundaries, estimate the quantities of timber products and for general management and protection of forests instruments used for building tramways and roads to access the difficult terrain for timber harvesting items from sawmills that operated in the State equipment used to fight forest fires radio communications equipment photographs depicting the history of forest use and management in Victoria, and the special contribution of the Forests Commission of Victoria. The collection reflects the history of forest use and management in Victoria. Aboriginal Australians used the forests as a resource for food and for materials to provide warmth and shelter and hunted in them for food and clothing materials. From 1834, the forests met new settlers' demands for building materials, fencing and fuel. The Gold Rush (1851 to about 1880) brought dramatic changes to the forests as wood was the principal fuel for the steam engines powering winches, pumps and crushers. Further vast tracts of forest were cleared for farms, to supply sleepers for the rapidly expanding rail network, for building materials and for fuel for Victoria's rapidly expanding population. Paddle steamers on the Murray River used wood as fuel. Only in the hilly and remote mountain areas did the larger areas of forest remain. It is estimated that about 84% of Victoria was forested before settlement. By 1987, this has fallen to 35%. The Museum?s collection indicates how Victorian forests were administered and managed. From 1851 (when Victoria became a separate colony), forests were controlled by the Department of Crown Lands and Survey. Later, the Departments of Agriculture and Mines took over forests management. In 1908, a separate Department of State Forests was set up to provide 'Management and Protection of State Forests' and, in 1910, the Victorian School of Forestry was established at Creswick to train forest managers and other staff. The Forests Commission of Victoria, established in 1918, managed the State?s forests until 1983 when the Commission, along with other Victorian land management departments, was absorbed into the then newly created Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands. The collection also provides evidence that, although vast quantities of trees were felled for construction timber, rail sleepers, fencing, fuel and pulpwood, the forests were managed in such a way that new tree seedlings were established after harvesting to regenerate the forest, a renewable resource of wood material. Managed scientifically, the forests are able to produce indefinitely, the materials and benefits sought by the people of Victoria.

Themes: Transforming and managing land and natural resources