Deirdre Slattery ‘Kosciuszko, Alpine and Namadgi National Parks.’

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Thursday, 16 March 2017 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm

Deirdre will celebrate National Parks Week by talking about ‘Baldur Byles: A forester above the tree line.’

I have chosen to tell you about Byles (1904-75) because he was one of my unsung heroes of Kosciusko National Park as we know it today. Although he was a forester, his lasting memorial is his work for the snow country, where he was active in both science and administration from 1932 to 1967.

Byles began his professional life believing that the purpose of a forest is to produce saleable timber. He initially supported grazing in the mountains. He ended his life as a ‘greenie’ supporting an explicitly conservation ethic. His work with scientists including Alec Costin, Dane Wimbush and his leading role in limiting the works of the mighty Snowy Mountains Scheme changed his consciousness about nature conservation and resources use. He even argued for part of the mountains above the tree line to be ‘sacred places’ that could exclude all human activity and allow ecological processes to proceed unimpeded.

I will look at the formation and growth of Byles’ understanding and attitudes to ecology and at how this forceful person made others pay attention to his developing concerns.

Deirdre Slattery is Adjunct Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University, Bendigo, where she lectures on a casual basis to Outdoor Education students. She has researched and written about the environmental history of Australia’s alpine areas, land use history in East Gippsland, and the Burke and Wills Expedition.

Her book Australian Alps National Parks was recently revised. With Graeme Worboys, she is currently working on a nature conservation history of Kosciusko National Park.

Deirdre is retired from full time work and enjoys involvement in Connecting Country, a landscape restoration program in Castlemaine, Victoria, bush walking and local and family history