The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 4
[State Forestry its Aim and Object]
Since I became connected with the Indian Forest Department, twelve years ago, the question has very frequently been asked me, "What do you do? What is State Forestry? Do you plant trees, or cut them down?" And one fair correspondent, writing since I came to New Zealand, asked tersely, "Have you planted a tree yet?" Now it is not easy in a few words to give an exact definition of what Forestry, and especially State Forestry, really is, and what are the duties in which the Forest employés should be engaged; and I have generally replied that I could not reveal the secrets of my craft. I purpose pursuing a contrary course this evening, and hope, ere I finish, to initiate you, even though it be only in the first degree. The Gardeners' Chronicle of 5th August last defined practical Forestry, as distinct from fanciful or ornamental, as "the art and practice of growing the largest quantity of the most valuable wood or timber upon the smallest area of ground in the shortest period of time." And this is doubtless a sufficiently accurate definition of the art as applicable to private estates; but in passing and working out any comprehensive scheme of State Forestry, for the benefit not only of the present but future generations, many other considerations present themselves. The welfare of the comunity and country at large (not merely individual sections) has to be carefully considered at each step, whilst at the same time care must be taken not to interfere unnecessarily with local privileges and vested interests, which time may have sanctioned, though the law has not. In my "Reports on Forest Management," which have been republished by the Government of this Colony, I give the following description of Scientific Forestry :—"The main object aimed at in any system of scientific Forestry page 2 is, in the first instance the conversion of any tract or tracts of natural forest, which generally contain trees of all ages and descriptions, young and old, good and bad, growing too thickly in one place and too thinly in another, into what is termed, in German, a geschlossener bestand (close or compact forest), consisting of trees of the better descriptions, and of the same age or period, divided into blocks, and capable of being worked, i.e., thinned out, felled, and reproduced or replanted, in rotation, a block or part of a block being taken in hand each year. In settling and carrying out such a system, important considerations and complications present themselves, such as the relation of the particular block, district, or division to the whole forest system of the province; the requirements of the people, not only as regards timber and firewood, but straw, litter, and leaves for manure, and pasturage; the geological and chemical formation and properties of the soil; and the situation as regards the prevailing winds, on which the felling must always depend, in order to decrease the chances of damage to a minimum; measures for precaution against fires, the ravages of destructive insects, trespass, damage, or theft by men and cattle. All these must be taken into consideration and borne in mind at each successive stage. Nor must it be supposed that when once an indigenous forest has been mapped, valued, and working plans prepared, the necessity for attending to all such considerations is at an end. On the contrary, it is found necessary to have a revision of the working plan every ten or twenty years. It may be found advisable to change the crop as in agriculture, to convert a hard wood into a coniferous forest, or vice versa, to replace oak by beech, or to plant up (unler bau) the former with spruce or beech to cover the ground and keep down the growth of grass. All these and a hundred other details are constantly presenting themselves for consideration and settlement, and the local forest officer should be ever on the alert to detect the necessity of any change and bring it to notice, no less than the controlling branch should be prepared to suggest what is best to be done, and conversant with what has been done and with what results, under similar circumstances, in other districts and provinces." The State Forester has also to think of climatic considerations and the permanent supply of timber, or what the French call bois de service, for the use of public departments, considerations which do not necessarily enter into the calculations of private individuals—conserving natural forests or forming plantations. Mr. Brandis, the Inspector-General of Forests to the Government of India, on a recent occasion said—" Forest administration in India has two main objects: 1st, The formation, protection, and gradual improvement of the public forest domains; 2nd, Consistently with the steady improvement of the forests, to make as much timber, wood, and other forest produce available as possible for the requirements of the country and for export trade, and thereby to produce from these domains as large a surplus revenue as is compatible with the maintenance and increase of their productive powers." Perhaps no better general definition of the aim and object of State forest administration could be given. An argument often used against State forests and planting, and State Forest Departments, is that, if profitable, private individuals may be trusted to do it in their own interests. The fallacy of this argument has been repeatedly exposed by writers on forest subjects, and very clearly in a brochure entitled "L'Aménagement des Forêts," by A. Puton, Inspector of Forests and Professor of Forest Legislation at the Forest School at Nancy. He shows that whilst coppice woods, with a rotation of only 20 years, yield 2½ cubic metres valued at 20 francs (16s. 8d.) per hectar (2½ English acres) per annum, timber forests, with a rotation of 120 years, yield 5¾ cubic metres valued at 81 francs (67s. 6d.) per hectar per annum; but on page 3 the other hand, owing to the comparatively small amount of capital in soil and timber required under the former, as compared with the latter system, the return by the former is 4½ per cent, against only 2 per cent, by the latter. Hence it is found that almost all private proprietors in Franco and elsewhere adopt the former system, and grow coppice woods, which give a quicker and larger money return, and, were it not for the State and Communal forests, managed under the latter system, producing a greater volume of timber and of large dimensions, the supply for naval purposes and public works would fall far short of the demand, whilst climatic considerations would be entirely overlooked. Having thus explained as briefly as possible what Forestry, and particularly State Forestry, really means, I proceed to state how operations are initiated and carried out in Germany and France—the countries in which the science is furthest advanced—the general principles being applicable to all countries and climates, for, as the Inspector-General of Forests in India writes in his preface to the Report on Forest Management already quoted:—"At first sight, it may seem a somewhat bold and fanciful idea to expect Forest officers from India to profit by studying forestry in Europe under a climate totally different, and in forests composed of other kinds of trees; but actual experience has shown that the professional knowledge acquired in European forests is of great practical use in India. There is hardly a question or difficulty of importance which arises in connection with forest administration in India, whether in regard to forest rights, or the working or regeneration and improvement of the forests, which has not been dealt with over and over again by Foresters in Europe." When a forest is about to be taken in hand and worked systematically, a surveyor and valuator from the forest staff are despatched to the spot—the former working under the directions of the latter, who places himself in communication with the local Forest Officer (if there be one), the local officials and inhabitants interested, and obtains from them all the information in his power. The surveyor first surveys the whole district or tract, then the several blocks or subdivisions as pointed out by the valuator, who defines them according to the description and age of the timber then standing, the situation, nature of soil, climate, and any other conditions affecting the rate of growth and nature of the crops which it may be advisable to grow in future years. Whilst the surveyor is engaged in demarcating and surveying these blocks, the valuator is employed in making valuations of the standing crop, calculating the annual rate of growth, inquiring into and forming a register of rights and servitudes with a view to their commutation, considering the best plan of working the forest for the future, the roads which it will be necessary to construct for the transport of timber—in fact all the conditions of the forest which will enable him to prepare a detailed plan for future management, and the subordinate plans and instructions for a term of years, to be handed over to the Executive Officer as his "standing orders." A complete code of rules for the guidance of the valuators has been drawn up and printed, in which every possible contingency or difficulty is taken into consideration and provided for. Having completed their investigations on the spot, the valuator and surveyor return to head-quarters and proceed to prepare the working plans, maps, &c., from their notes and measurements. These are submitted to the Board or Committee of controlling officers, who examine the plan or scheme in all its details, and if the calculations on which it is based be found accurate, and there are no valid objections on the part of communities or individuals, pass it, on which it is made out in triplicate, one being sent to the executive officer for his guidance, another retained by the controlling officer of the division, and the original at the head-quarter page 4 office for reference. The executive officer has thus in his hands full instructions for the management of his range down to the minutest detail, a margin being of course allowed for his discretion, and accurate maps on a large scale showing each subdivision of the forest placed under his charge. All these details are naturally a work of time, and we cannot hope even to introduce, still less to mature, such a system in New Zealand for many years to come, but let us consider how we shall set about initiating for approaching it. The first step would be for the forest employés to ascertain accurately what are Government forests, and class the whole forest land of the Colony under state, communal, i.e., reserved for the special use of communities, municipalities, educational endowments, &c.), and private. The State forests would then be divided into reserved and unreserved, the former to constitute the permanent source of supply of timber, and include tracts at the head waters of rivers, tops of mountains, &c., the removal of the forest from which might affect very injuriously the climate and water supply of the whole country. The proportion of this reserve forest to the total area, or head of population, must of necessity vary very much according to circumstances, but I am inclined to consider that 3 per cent., originally proposed in Sir Julius Vogel's Trust Act for this Colony, should be the minimum of State reserve. In the German Empire, the area of land under forest is 25 per cent, of the total area, of which one half, or 12½ per cent., is State forest, the area of forest, public and private, per head of population being 348 hectars, or about ¾ of an acre per head, but the proportion of this area per cent, and head of population varies widely in the several Kingdoms and Provinces of the Empire. In comparatively young colonies like New Zealand, we must not forget to provide for the requirements of a future dense population, bearing in mind that in the case of forest, perhaps more than in any other, it is much easier to keep and improve what we have got then to create it anew when required. The unreserved State forests would be open for settlement and supply of timber and firewood, a scale of Royalties or seignorages to be paid to the State Forest Department being drawn up, and licenses issued by the forest officials when necessary, in the case of forest tracts not being sold outright. Communal forests would be supervised by the officers of the State Forest Department, and managed to the best advantage, all surplus of receipts over expenditure being handed over to the community or endowed body. It is not intended to interfere in any way with the third class or private forests. The professional or purely technical labours of the Forest Department would then really commence, and be directed to the State reserved forest, of which forest surveys, valuations, and working plans would be prepared, and the annual yield disposed of to the best advantage, special care being taken to maintain and augment the capital in timber and annual yield by reproduction, whether it be natural or artificial. I must now explain what is meant by natural reproduction, and how it is effected. Natural reproduction implies the regeneration of any tract of forest from the seeding of the old trees, as distinct from planting out from nurseries or sowing of seed collected in other localities. It is not possible, with all descriptions of trees—and in the case of many the operation has to be aided by turning up the soil, transplanting of seedlings from one portion to another, &c., so as to secure some degree of uniformity in the young crop. Whenever practicable, natural reproduction has many advantages over artificial or planting—the cost is reduced to a minimum, and the growth is certainly not inferior to that of trees artificially reared. The operation requires care and study of the nature and requirements of the species which it is desired to reproduce, the soil and climate in which the forest is page 5 situated, and all other local conditions. I find that the popular idea is that New Zealand forests cannot be reproduced naturally, and that even the mature and half-grown trees will disappear or die off if the wood-cutter enters, or even if cattle and sheep are permitted to graze. With the short experience which I have of the forests of this Colony, I cannot be too careful not to dogmatise or place my opinion directly in opposition to that of those well qualified to judge, but, from what I have seen, I think I am justified in pronouncing the popular opinion to be, as is so often the case, a popular error, resulting from insufficient knowledge of the science of arboriculture and consideration of cause and effect. At any rate, this is the case with regard to some descriptions of New Zealand trees. I readily grant, what is true not only of the forests of New Zealand but all over the world, that if we suddenly let floods of light and air into an indigenous forest, and deprive the trees left standing of the shelter and support of others with which they have been brought up from their earliest childhood, the result will be decay and death; and in the same manner natural reproduction will not take place, or take place only very partially, and so tardily, that the young growth will be choked by a dense mass of undergrowth, weeds, and grass, into which fire will probably enter, and complete the murder of the young seedlings. I go further, and believe that the New Zealand forest, as a rule, is particularly sensitive to the sudden action of light and air, and from many of the trees being surface rooted, suffers, perhaps more than that of other countries, from the entrance of cattle and sheep. It is also impatient in a marked degree of the effects of fire. But all this does not prevent certain species reproducing themselves even now, and will not, I hope and believe, prevent our carrying on the systematic working and natural reproduction of the indigenous forests on the general principles of forest craft, although it may require some years of careful observation and experiment to ascertain how best to apply them. Natural reproduction is effected by a gradual removal of the existing older stock. If a forest track be suddenly cleared, there will ordinarily spring up a mass of coarse herbage and undergrowth, through which seedlings of the forest trees will rarely be able to struggle. In the case of mountain forests being suddenly laid low, we have also to fear not only the sudden appearance of an undergrowth prejudicial to tree reproduction, but the total loss of the soil from exposure to the full violence of the rain when it is no longer bound together by the tree roots. This soil is then washed away into the valleys below, leaving a bare or rocky hillside bearing nothing but the scantiest herbage. We must therefore note how Nature acts in the reproduction of forest trees, and follow in her footsteps. As Pope writes—
First follow Nature, and your judgment frame
By her just standard, which remains the same,
Unerring. . . . .
Acting on this principle, foresters have arrived at a systematic method of treatment, under which large tracts of forest in Germany and France are now managed. The forests of a division, working circle, or district, are divided according to the description of the timber and the prevailing age of the trees, and it is the aim of the forester gradually to equalise the annual yield, and ensure its permanency. With this object, he divides the total number of years which are found necessary to enable a tree to reach maturity into a certain number of periods, and divides his forest into blocks corresponding with each period or state of growth. Thus, the beech having a rotation of 120 years, beech forests would be divided into six periods of 20 years each—that is to say, when the forest has been page 6 brought into proper order, there should be as nearly as possible equal areas under crop in each of the six periods, viz., from one year to 20, from 20 to 40, and so on. It is not necessary that the total extent in each period should be together, but it is advisable to group them as much as possible, and work each tract regularly in succession, having regard to the direction of the prevailing winds. When a block arrives in the last or oldest stage, felling is commenced by what is called a preparatory or seed clearing, which is very slight, and scarcely to be distinguished from the ordinary thinning carried on in the former periods. This is followed by a clearing for light in the first year after seed has fallen (the beech seeds only every fourth or fifth year) with the objects of—1st, preparing the ground to receive the seed; 2nd, allowing the seed to germinate as it falls; 3rd, affording sufficient light to the young seedlings. The finest trees are, as a rule, left standing, with the two-fold object of depositing the seed and sheltering the young trees as they come up. If there be a good seed year and sufficient rain, the ground should be thickly covered with seedlings within two or three years of the first clearing, Nature being assisted when necessary by hand sowing, transplanting from patches where the seedlings have come up very quickly, to the thinner spots, and other measures of forest craft. When the ground is pretty well covered, the old trees are felled and carefully removed, so as to do as little damage as possible to the new crop, and the block recommences life, so to speak, nothing further being done until the first thinning. The above is briefly the whole process of natural reproduction, which is the simplest and most economical of all systems, and especially applicable to forests of deciduous trees. The period between the first or preparatory clearing and the final clearing varies from ten to thirty years, the more gradual and protracted method being now most in favour, particularly in the Black Forest, where the old trees are removed so gradually, that there can scarcely be said to be any clearing at all, the new crop being well advanced before the last of the parent trees is removed. This approximates to "felling by selection," which is the primitive system of working forests in all countries, under which in its rude form the forester proceeds without method, selecting such timber as suits him, irrespective of its relation to the forest increment. Reduced to system, it has certain advantages, especially in mountain forests, in which, if the steep slopes be laid bare area by area, avalanches, landslips, and disastrous torrents might result, but the annual output under this system is never more than two-thirds of that obtained by the rotation system, and there are other objections which it is unnecessary to detail in this paper, which have caused it to be rightly condemned, and now-a-days only retained in the treatment of European forests under peculiar or special circumstances. I now turn to the important subject of "artificial reproduction," or the raising of crops of timber by artificial sowing or planting. It is not within the scope of this paper to describe the various methods of sowing and planting, or to pronounce any opinion as to which are the best, or the most suitable for New Zealand. The special necessities and requirements of each case must always be carefully considered before planting operations are commenced, and with a climate and conditions so varied as they are in this Colony, it would be absurd and misleading to attempt to generalise on this point. The situation, soil, rainfall, purpose, and species, should all have careful consideration before any money is spent, even in the formation of a nursery. Having decided what to sow or plant, and how to do it, let me strongly recommend its being done well, with great care, and without stint of money at the commencement. Liberality, or even what may seem extravagance in this direction, will certainly prove true page 7 economy in the end. If sowing is to be adopted, let the land be thoroughly well prepared; in most cases, especially in that of fern land, it will be found that the soil is sour, and must weather for some months, or even a year, before fit to receive the seed. Let the seed be of the best, and bear in mind that although "most tree seeds, if kept dry, will remain good for an indefinite length of time, if they are once moistened sufficiently to cause them to swell, they will immediately rot, unless sufficient moisture be supplied to foster germination and growth," and spare no pains to sow it evenly in the ground. I may state that of the two methods of sowing in rows or drills and broadcast, I prefer the latter, the land having been well turned up with a sub soil plough, and harrowed, the harrow being passed over again after the seed is sown. I find the results from this method better than from sowing in rows, or even dibbling in the seed at intervals. Sowing broom seed with that of the Eucalypti has been found to answer well in Canterbury, and recommends itself as giving shelter to the young trees, besides which it can be utilised as firewood; but be careful not to put in more broom than tree seed, as I have seen done, and do not mix the Eucalypti with other descriptions, unless it be the Tasmanian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), as they do not admit of congeners. By attending to those and similar simple rules, excellent results may be obtained from sowing the Eucalypti, as may be seen from inspection of some tracts thus treated in the Canterbury Province, notably at the Reformatory at Burnham, where the cost is estimated at 30s. per acre, without including the fencing. Do not be afraid to let the trees grow up very thickly for the first few years, they will soon thin themselves, or a light thinning about the fifth year will be all that is required. Of course, bare spaces may be filled up in the first or second year, by transplants from portions where the seed has germinated freely, but it is scarcely possible in a plantation grown from seed to secure that regularity or evenness of growth attained by transplanting from nursery beds—i.e., planting, as compared with sowing in situ. In the case of all trees grown for ornament, of the more valuable descriptions, or indeed wherever the results aimed at will well re-pay the expense, I am therefore strongly in favour of the planting-out system. In adopting this method, too much care cannot be taken with regard to the nursery treatment. The Germans speak of the seedlings whilst in the nursery beds as "in the school," and that expresses exactly how they should be considered and treated. The great aim and object of nurseries, which is perhaps too often lost sight of, is to establish, harden, and root the young plants in a comparatively small area, where they can be watered and attended to in a manner which becomes impossible, except at enormous expense, after they are planted out. If the seedlings are to be put out close by in the garden, and treated like flowers, we may, of course, plant them out direct from the seed, or mother bed, but whenever they have to be removed to a distance, or planted as forest trees, they should be transplanted more or less frequently, cut over or root pruned, according to species or nature, so as to induce and ensure a healthy growth of rooty fibre to enable them to stand the shock of transplanting, and derive sufficient nutriment from the soil whilst establishing themselves in their new and permanent habitat. I have laid much stress on this point, because, as I have already remarked, I fear that nursery treatment is sometimes not understood, or neglected in New Zealand, which has been the cause of much vexatious disappointment and loss of good time and money with regard to seedlings sold or distributed from nurseries and public gardens. In planting for ornament, where expense is not so much an object, I would recommend good large pits to receive page 8 the young trees when well established in the nursery. They will then come away much quicker, and the result will well repay any extra expense. In forming plantations on a large scale, one cannot of course afford this, and with really well-rooted trees, a small hole made with a crow-bar in land previously ploughed should suffice, and has been found to do so by Mr. Frith, of Auckland. Indeed, I do not see why, with some species, such as the larch and Scotch fir, we should not be able to adopt the Scotch system of slitting or notching them in, when planting under favourable conditions as regards situation and climate. As with sowing, do not be afraid to plant too close. It is extra labour, and extra cost both of labour and material, but we cannot rear good timber trees if planted out far apart. It is much better to have them rather too thick at first and leave them to thin themselves, even though they become a little spindly, when, however, a little artificial thinning should be resorted to; but experience teaches us that far more plantations are ruined by over thinning than by too little. Pruning and lopping of forest trees is now almost universally condemned and abandoned. I would never trust a pruning-knife in the hands of any but the head forester, and only in his after he had shown himself competent to use it by letting it lie idle as much as possible. Regarding the species most suitable for planting, as with the particular method to be adopted, much must of necessity depend upon the circumstances and locality, and in a general paper like this I might only mislead if I attempted to prescribe. Those who have experience know better than I do what will and will not grow in their own locality, and to those who have not, I would recommend their making special reference, stating the soil, situation, object, &c. Should the State Forest Department be maintained, it will be one of the duties of the local Forest Officers to give such information and assistance when asked. But at present, as I have said, it would be premature on my part to attempt to lay down any general rules. I would, however, certainly not try planting any of the indigenous descriptions—though we may do so in the Department as matter of experiment and for guidance. We all know the rapid and successful growth of the blue gum, especially near the sea, where it is not subject to sharp frosts; also of the Pinus insignis and Cupresms macrocarpa, the latter of which especially recommends itself to my mind for shelter on sheep runs. All the Californian conifers appear to do well in this Colony, and for beauty none can surpass the Abies douglasii, Pinus sabiniana, benthamiana, and others from that region. The Himalayan varieties—P. excelso, or Bhotan pine, and Cedrus deodara, also flourish, and are worthy of attention, both from the value of their timber and their ornamental appearance. In bringing to a close the subject of planting, it may interest you to know what has been the result of some of our planting operations in India, chiefly with a view to showing their financial results so far as can at present be ascertained. The Chunga-Munga plantation, in the Punjab, has an area of 7000 acres, commenced in 1865, contains chiefly Indian blackwood (Dal-bergia sissoo). The expenditure up to end of 1873 had been £26,000, including £5000 spent during the first five years in unsuccessful experiments, £5000 had been received from petty thinnings (firewood and minor produce, grazing dues, &c.) From a careful valuation, and calculations made in 1873, it is estimated that the expenditure up to 1881, when the capital account closes, will be £97,000, and the value of the plantation be then £170,000. In considering the above results, it must be borne in mind that the rainfall in the district is under 15 inches, with great heat in summer, and sharp frosts in winter. The whole plantation has to be irrigated from a neighbouring canal, being debited with a charge of 4s. per acre per annum page 9 for the use of the water alone. Another important fact must be mentioned, viz., that, whereas the land on which the plantation stands was formerly almost valueless, and would not fetch an annual rental of 2s. per acre; 12s., and even 20s. per acre is now readily obtainable, and the former has been offered for the whole or any portion when cleared. The rents mentioned, of course, include the water rate of 4s. per acre per annum. This plantation is intended eventually to cover 30,000 acres, and will undoubtedly prove a great success, both as regards direct financial profit, a supply of timber or firewood, which is much required, improving the soil, and rendering it fit for cultivation with cereals, and ameliorating the climate. The Nelambur Teak plantations, in Madras Presidency, cover 3000 acres, the oldest portion having been planted 30 years ago. The total expenditure, including purchase and lease of some 19,000 acres of land from a Native Radj, has been £30,000, and the receipts from thinnings, &c., £10,000. These plantations were valued last year at minimum rates at £150,000, and Colonel Pearson, lately officiating as Inspector General of Forests in India, estimated their value, when mature, at no less than two millions sterling. The plantations of Australian Eucalypti (chiefly the blue gum) and Acacias in the Nilgiri Hills, Madras, extend to nearly 1000 acres, have cost £4000, and yielded £2000 since 1860, when they were commenced. I cannot give an estimate of their value; but in the case of one small plantation (60 acres) of E. globulus and marginata planted in 1870, we made a very light thinning last year, and recouped a quarter of our total expenditure on it. The trees in this plantation, planted at 6 feet apart, average 35 feet in height, and 9 inches in circumference, and the whole plantation is even and well grown. The thinnings yield excellent poles and firewood, and the timber of the Eucalypti and Acacia melanoxylon is found to be excellent. From one to two hundred acres are to be planted annually to replace the indigenous forest, which is of no value as timber, but is cleared for the firewood supply of the settlement, and extension of tea and coffee cultivation. The seed, which we obtain from Victoria, is sown in January, the seedlings transplanted in March or April, and "put out" during the first rains in June, in small pits 6 feet apart. No further care is required. The plantations of Casuarina eqvistifolia, the She-oak of Australia, on the sandy sea-board and liver banks in the Madras Presidency, promise to be exceptionally successful, and the results merit the attention of foresters in all parts of the globe, the estimated yield per acre, which has been carefully calculated and checked, being unusually high—four times that of the best forests in France—and the plantations being situated on tracts of pure sand, hitherto quite valueless and unproductive. The wood is chiefly used for firing, and the Government plantations were mainly intended to secure an adequate supply for the railway locomotives in the absence of coal. The cost per acre varies from £4 to £10 in different districts, including all charges up to time of clearing for the first time, which will be done after the short term of eight years on an average, so rapid is the growth. The yield varies from 22 tons of engine fuel, valued at £13, to 54 tons, valued at £32, according to the method pursued, which has varied in several districts as regards the number of trees to the acre, age when felled, &c. So much for the financial results of well-considered and carefully carried out planting operations in other countries. Their advantages in affording an adequate supply of timber and firewood and improving the climate should also not be lost sight of. If, for instance, we can succeed in creating blocks of artificial forests throughout the mining districts of Otago, from which I have just returned, the advantages, both direct and indirect, will, I am page 10 sure, be readily admitted by all who have visited that treeless region. Much has been written on the subject of the influence of forests on rainfall, springs, or streams of water, and the humidity of the atmosphere generally. I do not think we can consider it proved that their existence or non-existence influences in any appreciable degree the total rainfall of a district, although they probably do cause the clouds to precipitate their moisture in certain localities. [Hof Rath Wex, in a paper on the "decrease of water in rivers and springs," communicated to the Vienna Geographical Society in 1875, states that the decrease of water in the Elbe and Oder has been 17 inches; in the Rhine, 24; Vistula, 26; and Danube, at Orsova, 55 inches—in 50 years.] As to their favourable influence in the case of springs and streams there is little doubt, and many instances could be quoted from Von Humboldt, "Marsh on Man and Nature," and other standard works. They not only prevent excessive evaporation, but, by their presence and action, render the flow of water more regular and permanent, thus preventing disastrous floods and torrents during the winter or rainy season, and long droughts in summer. Their removal from mountain tops and hill sides cannot but be regarded as an evil, often followed by the most disastrous results. So much has this been found to be the case in France, that they are now engaged in a gigantic work of replanting the slopes of the Alps and Pyrenees, which had been cleared in former years for grazing. Those replantings are to extend over 200,000 English acres, to cost £400,000, and the work is estimated to extend over 140 years, which is considered "not an unreasonable time to undo the work of 20 centuries." Only 14 years of the 140 have as yet expired, and £40,000 has been expended in replanting ("reboisements") at the points most threatened, and, I am glad to learn, with the best results. Extensive planting is also being carried on in the Laiules, and district of the Gironde. The latest contributions to our forest literature on the subject of the influence of forests on climate is, I think, given in the reports of the Forest Conference, held at Simla in October, 1875, in the shape of a translation from a paper by M. J. Clavè, which appeared in the Revue des Deux Mondes, from which I extract the following:—"There are four separate actions of nature through which it may be said that forests influence, in some way or other, the physical condition or climate of a country. 1st. There is a chemical action through the leaves in decomposing the carbonic acid of the air. 2nd. A physical action in retaining moisture in the earth, and in checking the violence of the wind. 3rd. A physiological action in transmitting to the air through the leaves a portion of the moisture which the roots draw from the earth. 4th. A mechanical action through the roots, in retaining in its place the earth, especially on the sides of mountains and hills." The writer then proceeds to examine each action in detail, and deduces conclusions favourable on the whole. He admits that "the action and influence of forests on the climate and physical condition of countries is yet but imperfectly understood." And concludes: "It seems to have been clearly proved that whenever countries have been denuded of trees, their climate has been radically changed. Not to quote again the case of France, Asia Minor may be quoted as a country which, in the era when it was covered with forests, was richly cultivated, and supported easily a high rate of population, but which at the present day, owing to the destruction of the forests, has become so arid, that the crops fail to come to maturity, and thousands of human beings are now perishing from hunger and want." Before concluding, I must say a few words with special reference to the New Zealand forests, and give some indications of the nature of the proposals which, so far as I can at present page 11 judge, I shall lay before Government with my report in March next. I need scarcely premise that my estimate of the value of New Zealand forests is based on actual inspection and comparison with those in other countries, and that the Government are in no way pledged to accept my proposals for the organisation and working of the State Forest Department, though I shall endeavour to make them such as they may with confidence recommend during next session to the honourable House for adoption. I think very highly of your New Zealand forests. The kauri and puriri in Auckland, the totara in Hawkes Bay and Wellington, the red, black, and white pines and cedar of the South Island, are timbers of their class second to none in the world. They still exist in considerable quantity and large dimensions, and if we adopt proper measures in time, a permanent yield may, I am confident, still be secured. Then we have the so-called black, red, and white birches, the kowhai (Sophora tetraptera), &c., useful for general purposes, and several descriptions, such as the Rewa-rewa (Kniglitia excelsa) or honeysuckle, of great value as furniture or ornamental woods. I have not yet visited the West Coast, but from what I am told, there is to be found there alone a supply of good timber for many years, if not centuries, to come. I daresay many would call it an inexhaustible supply, but we foresters maintain that there is no such thing as an inexhaustible supply so long as the forest is under no control, is being trenched upon at haphazard, and without any data or regard to the annual increment of timber—in fact, so long as we are working in the dark, without any knowledge of the extent of our capital or annual income in wood. I think many of the New Zealand timbers have never had a fair chance or trial, being felled at all seasons of the year, and utilised at once, without seasoning. As Mr. Kirk writes in his report on the durability of New Zealand timbers in constructive works:—"The disadvantages attending winter work in the bush have led to the anomalous fact that by far the larger portion of timber used in New Zealand is felled during the spring and summer months, and this has given rise to the erroneous idea that some of our best timbers—the kauri, totara, and others—season imperfectly, contracting in length and breadth long after they are used Exactly similar results would attend the use of the best European and American timbers under similar circumstances." I admit that serious objections may be raised against some of the species, both as regards durability, shrinking, &c., and I confess that there are some conditions, both as regards the supply and demand, commercial value, rate of growth and reproduction, which I have not as yet fully mastered, and with regard to which, so far as I can learn, no reliable data are on record. Speaking broadly, however, I repeat that I have formed a high opinion of the New Zealand forests, and I think, if the public will permit us, we shall make a very valuable property of what we reserve, and secure a fair and steadily increasing revenue from what we dispose of. It has, I am aware, been argued by some that the £10,000 per annum appropriated under the existing "State Forest Act" is inadequate for planting purposes, and that, as the Colony cannot afford to supplement it, or even to spend that sum, the whole thing had better be dropped. Now, I am very glad to have the £10,000 appropriation for the first few years as a reserve fund to be drawn upon, but I don't intend to trench much upon it, and any scheme which I may bring forward will be based on the principle that the Forest Department should be entirely self-supporting, the revenues derived from existing indigenous forests in the hands of the Crown being made sufficient to cover all expenditure for establishments and working, gradual formations of plantations, &c., &c., the surplus, after page 12 defraying all the above charges, being Colonial Forest Revenue. This is the system which we have gone on in India, where we took over a forest property in a much more delapidated condition than that of New Zealand, and burthened by the immemorial rights and privileges of a Native population, numbering upwards of 200 millions; and have nevertheless, I am proud to say, paid our way, formed extensive plantations, and already secured an annually increasing surplus of revenue over expenditure. I wish especially to guard myself against forming or expressing Utopian or too rosy views on this subject, and I can have no interest in over-estimating the value and importance of the forests, as it is very improbable that I shall be able to remain as Conservator, even if the Government and House should wish to retain my services, beyond the year for which they are at present lent. I do not pretend that we are going to clothe barren hill sides and desert plains with trees in a year, or even several years; or that the indigenous forests are at once to pay off your Colonial debt, but I do say and think that, with proper management, we should be able to plant wherever necessary, secure a permanent and improved supply of timber for the use of individuals and public departments, and retain an intact and gradually improving forest property, whose capital value may represent your national debt, and the income derived from which ought to go far to meet the interest thereon. I think I am justified by what I have seen in considering that this may be done, but it can only be done by the public and its representatives in the House regarding the question of Forest Conservation as a National or Colonial one, and not from a merely local point of view. Whatever is done must, of necessity, be done in the interests of the Colony at large, that is to say, of the public, and the only reason for State or Government interference and direct action is that damage to forests cannot be repaired in a clay, nor can they, if once destroyed, be replaced in a year like a crop of wheat. Even a generation is, as a rule, too short to grow good timber, and you will, I am sure, admit that of all people Colonists are the least likely to look beyond the present time or generation. The Secretary of State for India, writing in 1863, makes the following remarks bearing upon this point:—"To forests, from their nature, the usual maxim of political economy which leaves such undertakings to private enterprise cannot be applied. Their vast extent, the long time that a tree takes to reach maturity, and the consequence that few persons live long enough to obtain any, and more especially the highest, returns from expenditure even once in the course of their lives, are proofs of the necessity that forest management should be conducted on permanent principles, and not be left to the negligence, avarice, or caprice of individuals, and therefore point to the State as the proper administrator, bound to take care that, in supplying the wants of the present generation, there is no reckless waste, no needless forestalling of the supply of future generations. This is matter of experience, not in India only, but in all other countries of the world." I have, you will kindly bear in mind, nothing to do with Colonial politics—Abolition, Separation, or Federation. The views and principles of the present, past, and future Governments of the Colony have no legitimate bearing on my duty, which is at present to submit a report on my inspection of the New Zealand forests, with proposals for their management and conservation. Those proposals, so far as I have given them shape in my own mind, will consist in—1. The absolute reservation of a comparatively small proportion of the unalienated forest area. 2. The gradual disposal of the timber and forest products on the remainder of the waste forest lands to the best advantage. 3. The formation of Government plantations wherever we can do so without risk page 13 of financial loss, or it is proved that they are absolutely essential to the public good. 4. The encouragement of planting by private proprietors by liberal grants of land in lieu of planted areas. Under such a system the whole forest revenue will of course be Colonial, and the expenditure be quite irrespective of the county or district, being in fact greatest in the first instance in those contributing the minimum of forest revenue—viz., in creating forest where none at present exists. This is, I think, the only feasible plan of action, and I hope that the Government may see their way to support it, and that the House may approve, with such modification as they may think fit. We can then set to work in a systematic and regular manner with our forest valuations and demarcations, and working district by district. These things cannot be done in a day, but they can be done in time, even in what are considered the most inaccessible places, by perseverance and patience. I have now to thank you for your patience in listening to this Paper, which has been written at intervals, and as a rule, after a long day in the saddle, or on the coach—which must be some excuse for its imperfections and shortcomings. It makes no claim to be exhaustive, or to convey any instruction on forest subjects in detail. My only aim has been to explain, ever so meagrely, what is the aim and object of State Forestry, and, therefore, of the Government in proposing to introduce it, and how it is carried out. If I have succeeded in popularising the subject, and interesting any of you in it so far as to make you desirous of following it up by studying for yourselves some of the many excellent works on the subject, written chiefly in French and German, I shall be well satisfied, and consider that our time this evening has been well spent.
The President (Mr. R. Gillies) said he confessed he had been one of those who had looked upon State Forestry in New Zealand as a subject which they could not tackle, mainly from financial considerations. The matter was of such importance that he always thought they should be prepared to make great sacrifices in order to establish a proper system of Forestry in this country, but still the financial difficulty always seemed so enormous, that he thought they could not at present undertake it. Anyone who saw the destruction of native forests which had taken place in this country, must be grieved beyond measure. No doubt the Waste Lands Board of Otago had recently done a good deal to check the wanton destruction of forests; but without a special knowledge of the subject, and without a systematic effort being put forth, it was impossible that a body constituted like the Waste Lands Board could effectually deal with the evil. It was with peculiar pleasure that he hail listened to Captain Walker's statement that he saw his way to recommend the establishment of a Forest Department which would be self-supporting. He confessed that it was a result that he never for one moment thought possible. He felt sure that when this fact was brought before the Colonists of New Zealand, they would never allow this question of State Forestry to be put on a shelf or into a pigeon-hole.
Capt. Hutton said he would like to ask a question. They were all agreed that perhaps the most important part of Otago for planting forests was on the Goldfields. Some parts of the Goldfields it would be difficult to get for the purpose, because they were supposed to be auriferous. However, there were other parts which would be easily obtained, namely, where the miners had worked out the ground. Now, on the West Coast, he had seen large trees growing on rocks without any soil at all, and he would like to ask Captain Campbell-Walker if his experience of Forestry came up to that—if he could grow trees on stones? Because there was an immense page 14 quantity of land in the interior of the Province covered with "tailings" on which it would he a great advantage to have trees.
Captain Campbell-Walker said lie had seen trees grown upon stones by the Forest Department in Germany, but he could not say that it was a financial success. He confessed be would be very sorry to try the experiment. He was afraid they could not manage with £10,000 a year—or without it, as he hoped to do—if they tried that sort of thing. He had just come from the Goldfields, where he had seen tracts of country such as Captain Hutton described, and which had previously been described to him by Dr. Hector. He understood that there were large tracts of such country on which tree-planting would not only be possible, but which were, in fact, specially adapted for planting. He was sorry to say that his examination did not bear out that view. Generally, those tracts were composed of stones, without any soil at all. Now, the Forest Department would grow a tree anywhere, if they were given sufficient money; but they did not pretend to grow trees on stones without money. He did, however, see some tracts in the neighbourhood of Lawrence and Wetherstones, on which he thought trees could be grown cheaply, and with very good results. The area was not so great as he expected, but he dared say there were many tracts of the same sort where they could do some good, or could induce others to do some good by showing them what to do. The expectations he had formed from what he gathered from Dr. Hector had not been realized. He was more sanguine, perhaps, than he ought to have been, and he might have misunderstood Dr. Hector. The great difficulty was the expense of fencing. In some places, however, where the miners had carried on their work by "paddocking," he thought they could plant with very good results.
Mr. Alexander Bathgate said he wished to follow Captain Hutton's example by asking a question. Some time ago he read a letter in the Australasian, in which the writer asserted that the Australian trees did not influence the climate in the same way that trees in other parts of the world were supposed to do. The writer attributed this to the pendant leaves with which most Australian trees were clothed, and which prevented them from producing the same results as trees of other countries which were of a more umbrageous character. He would like to ask Captain Campbell-Walker if his experience in India bore out the theory of this writer that the Australian trees did not influence the rainfall? He thought this was a question of considerable importance to settlers in the interior of Otago.
Captain Campbell-Walker said that the plantations of Eucalypti in India had only been in existence for 15 years, and the extent of the plantations in the Neilgherries being only 1000 acres, they could, of course, have no appreciable influence on the rainfall. He could, therefore, give no opinion in regard to their influence from the results obtained. He was, however, inclined to think, with the writer in the Australasian, that they would not affect the rainfall so much as other descriptions, if tree-growth really affected the rainfall, which, as he had said in his paper, he did not think had been proved. The Australian trees gave very little shade, and the soil below them became baked and dried up. If they could only get something to grow underneath the Australian trees to cause a leafy deposit, or humus, there was no doubt that their value, from climatic considerations, would be increased immeasurably.
The President said they had in their midst the Professor of Natural Science in the Wellington College, who as a botanist ranked amongst the page 15 highest in New Zealand. He thought they would all endorse his action in asking Mr. Kirk to say a few words on this subject.
Mr. Kirk said the President had formed a somewhat exaggerated idea of his attainments, and especially of his ability to address the meeting, after they had listened to a paper so eminently practical as that just read by Captain Campbell-Walker. However, there were one or two points to which he might be allowed to make reference. The greater portion of one side of the Middle Island was practically devoid of timber. The timber on Banks's Peninsula was of little value, and might be worked out in less than five years. The Kauri in the North which had so often realised a value in times of commercial depression and difficulty, would be completely worked out, so far as large trees were concerned, before the next 60 years, and it must be borne in mind that the rate of destruction was increasing at an enormous speed. The Kauri was largely in demand in English dockyards, and the quantity now leaving Auckland for England was greater than in past years. Now, he thought that everyone who had listened to the paper just read would have come to the conclusion that the conservation of existing forests was practicable, and, more than that, that the majority of our Native forests could be renewed by judicious treatment. He had himself advocated those views for many years, and it was with great pleasure that he found them confirmed by Captain Campbell-Walker. In Auckland they have the Kauri, the most magnificent of all New Zealand trees, one of the most magnificent of all conifers. Over and over again in that province, after a forest district had been worked out, they had seen acres and acres of young trees wantonly destroyed, thus preventing all possibility of a renewal of the forests in those districts. He thought anyone who visited the beech forests in the South Island would want very little further evidence to confirm the view that it would be possible to renew the New Zealand forests. In every district they found young trees springing up, and exhibiting the greatest vigour. It did not matter what part of the Colony they went to; in Nelson, Canterbury, and Otago, they saw the possibility of renewing those beech forests. There was another point on which he thought Captain Campbell-Walker had not laid so much emphasis as he might have as regarded the necessity of forest conservation by the State. Thus, in many parts of the Colony, they had forests from which the State had received no benefit whatever, but from which private individuals had received a large benefit. It might be that the community at large benefited by the abundance of timber, but he thought it only fair that the community should receive something in the shape of a direct return. It occurred to him that when Captain Campbell-Walker made reference to trees most suitable for new plantations, one of very great value was omitted from the list—namely, the black Austrian pine (Pinus Austriacus.) This tree appeared to him to be of much greater value than many they attached importance to. It flourished on stiff tertiary clays, and equally well 011 sandy soils in the Middle Island. He had seen some fine specimens in the neighbourhood of Oamaru, where they knew trees were very much required. One difficulty in the way of a judicious selection of Eucalypti arose from the fact that so many species would only flourish in the neighbourhood of the sea, where the temperature was regulated by the ocean. Inland, they found these trees were considerably injured by frost. He therefore thought there was a considerable amount of work to be done in the way of experiments, in order to learn which of the Australian gum-trees will best bear the severity of the inland climate. There was another point on which he would like to hear a few remarks, and it was one which he thought was of considerable importance.page 16
That was with reference to the reclamation of our sand wastes. He believed there were many places near Dunedin where the sand was encroaching on cultivation, the fences and pastures being buried by the sand. He thought that the reclamation of these sand wastes would form an important branch of the work to be carried on by the Forest Department of the future. It was a serious necessity, which was felt at this moment in nearly all parts of the Colony. There were sandy deserts in some places which he thought, under judicious management, could be reclaimed, and the destruction of property arrested. He had listened with very great pleasure to the paper just read.
In acknowledging a vote of thanks passed, on the motion of Dr. Coughtrey,
Captain Campbell-Walker said he was extremely pleased with the remarks that members of the Institute had been pleased to make on his paper. He might be allowed to say that for his initiation into such knowledge as he possessed of the New Zealand flora he was indebted entirely to Mr. Kirk, who accompanied him on his official tour, and to whose services the Forest Department of New Zealand—should it ever take shape—would be indebted, more than, perhaps, to any other settler in New Zealand.
Authorities Quoted: "Reports on Forest Management;" D. Brandis, Ph.D., Inspector General of Forests to the Government of India; "Notes on Forestry," by C. F. Amery; "Hof Rath Wex;" M. J. Clavè; "L'Amenagement des Forêts," by A. Puton.
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