In August 1914, the woodlands remaining in the UK were mostly privately owned and certainly not scientifically managed for timber production. Imports were plentiful, cheap and many felt could always be protected by the Royal Navy. However, the war quickly highlighted a huge number of essential uses, an urgent requirement for unprecedented quantities of all sorts of timber, and serious transportation difficulties. As it became clear this would not be a short or small-scale conflict, the state of the UK’s forests and forestry profession suggested a successful mobilisation of this natural resource might not be possible. Yet, even with concerns about shortages raised at the highest levels of government, the measures put in place did keep industries going and the Western Front standing and supplied.
This talk will therefore outline the main measures that were taken, and comment on their success and legacies. Firstly, civilian experts were brought together to manage the effort, the management structures becoming increasingly centralised, and introduce gradually wider and stricter controls on the existing timber trade. Secondly, whilst a lot of timber was still obtained through contracts with private UK companies and continued purchases from abroad, the mobilisation of more manpower from across the Empire was also necessary. In terms of these new forest workforces, I will focus on the geographical, social, and professional backgrounds of members of two distinct groups that were successfully brought into existence. The rapid establishment and growth of the Canadian Forestry Corps and the more tentative establishment and use of the Women’s Forestry Service.
All welcome- this seminar is free to attend but advance registration is required.