Seminar: ‘Sisters of the South’

‘Sisters of the South’: Australian-South African botanic exchange and the origins of comparative climatic forestry in South Africa c.1881-1994 Brett Bennett, University of Texas at Austin/University of Western Sydney Wednesday, 29 September, 4.15-5.30 pm McDonald Room, Menzies Library, ANU Recently many historians have argued that the development of forestry within South Africa and the larger British Empire was merely an extension of continental European forestry methods and culture. This paper places the origins of one important part of South African and British imperial forestry, the formation of plantations of exotic trees, within an Australian and southern African context. I argue that environmental and cultural comparisons between South Africa and Australia by white South Africans, combined with widespread failures of the first Australian trees planted in southern Africa during the nineteenth century, fuelled the rise of what I call a comparative climatic school of forestry in the Cape Colony in the 1890s. Foresters in the Cape Colony started to compare supposedly similar South African and Australian climates to find the “correct” Australian tree to plant in South Africa, or in the words of this school’s leader, David Ernest Hutchins, to “fit the tree to the climate”. This Cape comparative school of climatic forestry then spread to the rest of South Africa after 1902 when Cape foresters staffed newly created forestry departments in the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal during the reconstruction period. From 1902 and onward, foresters continued to refine their knowledge of Australian climates and the habits of Australian trees planted in South Africa to select the proper trees for plantations. This knowledge helped lead to the rise...

New book – Desert Channels: The Impulse to Conserve

Libby Robin, Chris Dickman, Mandy Martin CSIRO PUBLISHING, 352 pages, Hardback, Colour illustrations, ISBN:9780643097490, $59.95. Desert Channels is a book that combines art, science and history to explore the ‘impulse to conserve’ in the distinctive Desert Channels country of south-western Queensland. The region is the source of Australia’s major inland-flowing desert rivers. Some of Australia’s most interesting new conservation initiatives are in this region, including partnerships between private landholders, non-government conservation organisations that buy and manage land (including Bush Heritage Australia and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy) and community-based natural resource management groups such as Desert Channels Queensland. Conservation biology in this place has a distinguished scientific history, and includes two decades of ecological work by scientific editor Chris Dickman. Chris is one of Australia’s leading terrestrial ecologists and mammalogists. He is an outstanding writer and is passionate about communicating the scientific basis for concern about biodiversity in this region to the broadest possible audience. Libby Robin, historian and award-winning writer, has co-ordinated the writings of the 46 contributors whose voices collectively portray the Desert Channels in all its facets. The emphasis of the book is on partnerships that conserve landscapes and communities together. Short textboxes add local and technical commentary where relevant. Art and science combine with history and local knowledge to richly inform the writing and visual understanding of the country. Conservation here is portrayed in four dimensions: place, landscape, biodiversity and livelihood. These four parts each carry four chapters. The ‘4×4’ structure was conceived by acclaimed artist, Mandy Martin, who has produced suites of artworks over three seasons in this format with commentaries, which make the interludes...

The Gifts of the Furies

by Glenda Cloughley A mythic story-song about relations between people and Earth Musical Director – Johanna McBride Inspired by The Oresteia by Aeschylus and Tom Bass’s sculpture Ethos, the spirit of Canberra Presented by A Chorus of Women as a citizens’ response to climate change with a cast of 80 Canberra men and women including accomplished soloists and instrumentalists and the ABC 666 Community Choir King’s Hall and the House of Representatives Chamber Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House Saturdays 11, 18 and 25 September 2010 7.00pm Admission free – bookings essential Forum Members of the audience are invited to a conversation about the work with the composer, cast and others Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House Sunday 26 September, 2.00pm – 3.00pm Free after entry Bookings for performances and forum furies@moadoph.gov.au 02 6270 8102 www.moadoph.gov.au Supported by the ACT...

Gippsland environments and human interaction: past, present and future

Dates: Workshop: Friday 22 October 2010 Conference: Friday 25 and Saturday 26 October 2011 These academic and community events examine the ways in which the people of Gippsland respond to and interact with the Gippsland environment. The Gippsland Environments workshop uncovers stories of our Gippsland landscape through an examination of written records and non-textual sources. The Gippsland Environments conference will consider how the region has shaped the Gippsland people and how they in turn have shaped their surroundings. Conference themes include Aborigines and early Gippsland; the use of natural resources; management of the environment; the landscape, flora and fauna of Gippsland; and conservation and representations of the environment. For further details and registration contact Dr Julie Fenley on (03) 5122 6320 or Email:...

New book: Green Harvest

Green Harvest: a history of organic farming and gardening in Australia by Rebecca Jones Published by CSIRO PUBLISHING in September. Green Harvest explores the fertile and healthy history of organic farming and gardening in Australia.  It tells the story of the founding of the first Australian organic societies in the 1940s (which were amongst the first in the world) and explores the principles that have shaped organic growing from the early twentieth century to the present day.  Green Harvest is an environmental history ‘from the ground up’ – the beliefs and practices of organic growers themselves across eight decades.  It examines what it means to grow food organically in Australia and how this has changed over time.  This is an interdisciplinary study combining historical methods with ecological theories of health and includes in-depth interviews, analysis of historical documents and case studies of organic growers. Rebecca Jones is a lecturer at Monash University Department of Rural and Indigenous Health in Victoria with research interests in environmental history, health history and environmental health. Further details:...