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Empirical knowledge is gained from experience fine-tuned by trial and error. The early foresters, like other settlers from verdant Europe, had no experience of forest fire. With the establishment of forest services in each State, individuals contributed to a knowledge bank about bushfire before the dawn of forest fire science in the late 1950's. This section is dedicated to the contributions of the empiricists, whose insights retain their validity.

Forest Fires in Coastal Areas - pdf 296kB

H J Lyne, District Forester, Taree, on the benefits of regular burning and firebreaks, in the Australian Forestry Journal in July1918.

Responses to Mr Lyne - pdf 203kB

Responses supporting Mr Lyne appeared in the next issue of Australian Forestry Journal, in October 1918. 

Stretton's Introduction - pdf 77kB

The eminent jurist Leonard B Stretton was appointed Royal Commissioner to inquire into the 1939 bushfires.  His sharp insights and sound logic formed the basis for a new era of fire management in Victoria. His "introduction" is a graphic account of a high intensity forest fire in eucalypt forest.  Full details of his work is here (click on link):          Black Friday -- Royal Commission

    A O Lawrence's Opening Address - pdf 155kb.

Alfred Oscar Lawrence was responsible for implementing Stretton's recommendations on public land in Victoria after the 1939 fires. In his opening address to the Fire Ecology Symposium at Monash University in 1969 as Forests Commission Chairman and in the twilight of his career, he implores staff not to let our forests and parks be destroyed by fear of criticism or lack of faith in technology.

Suspected Adjoining Landholder - 35kB  

 In his keynote address to senior officers at the Forests Commission Fire Protection School at Marysville in 1963, E D (Ted) Gill, then Chief, Division of Forest Protection, makes a case for fuel reduction on public land close to private property.

  Mervin Bill's oral evidence to Judge Stretton's 1939 Royal Commission - pdf 142kb.
  Mervin Bill, Chief Draftsman Of the Forests Commission gives an  account of aerial fire
before the second world war.


Forest Fire (Victoria) Inc.
Last Modified: 
30 July 2018