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History of forest management

Western Australia has had forest management practices in place since 1916 when Charles Edward Lane Poole, arguably Australia’s most famous forester and Western Australia’s first Conservator of Forests, introduced systematic, science-based forestry.

Lane Poole actively supported an emerging national view on science and resources, including forestry. A forestry conference in 1916 recommended the establishment of a national forestry school – something Lane Poole strongly supported and a project which was to occupy many years of his later life.

It was Lane Poole who urged the permanent reservation of State forests and their management on a sustained yield basis. He also pushed for establishment of plantations to replace imports of softwoods.

In 1920, he attended the First British Empire Forestry Conference in London as one of two Australian delegates. Lane Poole and Lord Novar moved for the establishment of the British Empire Forestry Association, which established Lane Poole’s international reputation.

Lane Poole resigned in 1921 over a government decision to renew a large forest concession to a British company. He felt strongly that it compromised the independent professional management necessary to ensure the sustainability of future forest yields.

In 1945 at age 60, Charles Lane Poole retired but continued to work as a forestry consultant for several years.

Like Lane Poole, the Forest Products Commission believes the state's unique native timbers should be used for high-value products and should, where possible, involve maximum local processing to take advantage of opportunities for Western Australians.


Find out more about Charles Lane Poole and his important legacy for Western Australian forestry. Some titles to look out for include:

  • The zealous conservator: a life of Charles Lane Poole, John Dargavel, UWA Press, 2008

  • A colonial legacy, Carol Mansfield, published in Australian garden history: journal of the Australian Garden History Society, Jul/Aug 2002, p.5-9

You can also visit the Lane Poole Reserve, just 100 kms south of Perth, which was named in his honour in 1984. Visit the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions for more information and how to get there.