Edward Harold Fulcher Swain's Vision of Forest Modernity

Intellectual History Review 21 (2):135-150 (2011)
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Abstract

Edward Harold Fulcher Swain (1883?1970) developed a unique idea about the importance of forests, advocating the creation of a new society based upon forests, and he pursued policies to implement his unique vision of forestry when he served as the Director of Queensland's Forestry Board from 1918 to 1924 and the Forestry Commissioner for New South Wales from 1935 to 1948. Swain's beliefs developed out of a combination of his Australian experiences and connections with foresters in the British Empire and America. When he could not convince Australian elites about the need to create a forest-based society, he asked foresters at the 1947 Empire Forestry Conference in London to assert the primacy of forestry in land management in the British Empire. Many foresters positively received parts of Swain's argument, but his ideas could never be fully implemented in the British Empire because of the dominance of agrarian doctrines of development in post-Second World War colonial planning and the rapid process of decolonization. Swain's life sheds light onto current debates among historians about the origin and legacy of forestry in Australia and the British Empire. His ideas, many that parallel the basic tenets of modern environmentalism, require historians to rethink the relationship between Empire forestry and environmentalism

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