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A history of inventory and the assessment of value in Western Australian forests

Williamson, Jim (2015) A history of inventory and the assessment of value in Western Australian forests. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis provides an account of the assessment and management of forest values, and the factors that have shaped those values in the South West of Western Australia since European settlement. The phases of forest exploitation in this State include discovery, intense exploitation, awakening conservationism, environmentalism, and a developing synthesis between humans and their environment. This phased history has been one of learning by all stakeholders, from ignorance about Australian forest and its timbers, to scientific management and professionalization, social, cultural and political turmoil, commercial excess and eventually the emergence, consideration and elevation of social values in addition to commerciality. This history and the place of forest inventory in reflecting and acknowledging these values in forest management, was investigated through document review, firsthand knowledge of the researcher, information from key informants, and a survey of forest stakeholders to reveal and analyse contemporary societal values regarding these forests. The result is an in-depth description - achieved through an intertwined analysis of forest inventory and community values over the history of European settlement in Western Australia - of the emergence of commercial forest value and subsequently other broader societal values, such as biodiversity conservation, ecosystem management and recreation, as well as the growing conflict between these values. The influence of these values over this period has been to transform the management and policy framework from one firmly located in the physical sciences to one now also drawing on the social sciences, thereby involving the far greater complexity of a political environment with its sometimes conflicting values. The analysis undertaken in this thesis suggests a future requirement for the discipline of forestry, beyond that of physical attribute inventories and tree growth rates and volume tables, to a continued embracing of community involvement, both as a source of data and for guidance in negotiating and resolving conflicting goals. The survey instrument developed in this study to access contemporary societal values has great potential for wider application as a tool for identifying the broad suite of social values relevant to forest management as well as providing essential input to conflict resolution when required.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor: Moore, Susan and Warren, Carol
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