Wardell-Johnston, G. and Calver, M.C. (2005) Toward sustainable management: Southern Africa's Afromontane, and Western Australia's jarrah forests. In: Calver, M.C., Bigler-Cole, H., Bolton, G., Dargavel, J., Gaynor, A., Horwitz, P., Mills, J. and Wardell-Johnston, G., (eds.) A Forest Conscienceness: Proceedings 6th National Conference of the Australian Forest History Society Inc. Millpress Science Publishers, Rotterdam, pp. 729-739.
We review the history of forest management in two southern hemisphere foresttypes: Western Australia’s jarrah Eucalyptus marginata forests and the Afromontane forests ofsouthern Africa to determine approaches for achieving sustainable forest management. We arguethat despite major differences in the ecology and biogeography of these two forest types, a sharedpattern in the history of exploitation may provide lessons for achieving sustainable managementacross forest types. While advanced silvicultural understanding has long been achieved in both for-est types, this in itself has not led to either sustainable management or to public acceptance of forestmanagement regimes. In both areas an early, rapid expansion of uncontrolled timber removal and inthe number of operating timber mills was followed by controlled exploitation, a rapid decline in thenumbers of mills and, more recently, a general decline in yield. In neither case was increased con-cern about conservation responsible for the reduction in either yield or in employment in the indus-try. Rather, in WA jarrah forests, amendments in purpose and tenure were subsequent to the loss ofmost mills and towns, while in southern Africa’s Afromontane forests, timber workers were pen-sioned by 1939 because of scanty remaining merchantable timber. In the jarrah forests, we believethat the conflict generated by conservation concerns, reduced timber industry employment, and re-duced benefits flowing to the communities adjacent to the logged forests, has fueled dissatisfactionwith forest management outcomes. This has led to a new process in the preparation of forest man-agement plans. Increased accountability and more realistic expectations of timber yield followingproductivity declines may mean the current plan for the forests of Western Australia can be used asan example to achieve sustainability in Mediterranean forest ecosystems. However, general accep-tance of management regimes may not be achieved until the scale of logging operations is matchedwith local sustainability criteria. Increasing the area of reserves will not accelerate this process, butrather may impede it. Setting conservative overall yield estimates, and achieving local sustainabil-ity seem both to be necessary to achieve general acceptance of management regimes. A sustainablemanagement system appears to have been achieved in the Afromontane forests and has led to thedevelopment and maintenance of support for small-scale operations to supply local timber needsfrom State managed forests. In both environments such a process is achievable because of the highvalue and specialized nature of the native forest timber resource, and because of the increasingavailability of general purpose timber from plantations.