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Forest data and accounting system proposal
Forestry Memories
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No: 3190   Contributor: Norman Davidson   Year: 1968
Forest data and accounting system proposal

The document is courtesy of Inverness, Ross and Skye Forest District and staff at their Fort Augustus office. A two hundred plus page folder discovered in the Fort Augustus Office was produced by George Dey (District officer based at Dingwall) in 1968 under the title ‘The problems and philosophy of State Forest Management’. Please see PDF button on bottom right of picture.

This really is only of interest to those of us sadly deep into forest data and accounting systems and with some knowledge of the pre-computer paper age. It is difficult to visualise today the real problem of maintaining up to date, data and costs, with hand written and mentally added column upon column of figures. How many, now, enjoy the exhilaration of cross adding a large complex summary sheet’s vertical and horizontal total columns and arriving at the same answer! Joy indeed!

Reading between the lines this dissertation it would appear that the documentation and forms of the era pre 1965 in the Forestry Commission, whilst prolific and comprehensive, probably served the needs of Head Office better than the local District Officer who was responsible for forecasting the work and financial resources of four or five individual forests. More problematic he also had to have a detailed database of each forest’s growing stock of trees to calculate the annual growth increment from which he could remove in thinning a sustainable proportion. This all took many man hours of dedicated calculations which had to be submitted periodically in five year plans with updates every year meanwhile taking account of any such changes in planting targets, windblow or a newly sited sawmill. George appears to have been of the belief that a system more tailored to continuous recording of the detail of forest work and forest growing stock feeding into specially designed forms would for him provide a more accurate outturn with less highs and lows of work levels that resulted from producing the five year plans without good to hand information. He mentions computers a number of times and undoubtedly would have revelled in today’s data collection and instantaneous calculation. There could be some doubt about his similar enchantment with the policy of thinning large coupes with multi-diverse forest stands with one phase of the cycle timed to cover all areas in the same location – geographic area thinning.

On the matter of calculation of stand volumes and thinning intensity he describes some innovative short cut calculation methods that are worthy of a further look. However he does appear to have bypassed the concept of using basal area as a main control system but perhaps low cost easy to use relascopes were not in general use then. I stand to be corrected.

His chapters also enlarge on what constitutes a reasonable area as a responsible work load, on promotion, office filing and stratifying foresters into afforestation or harvesting functions some descriptions of which may raise a smile or find some sympathies today.

The whole document has been presented in six separate sections each in a Picture number, the last two (No 5 &6) containing samples of the actual designed forms. Those wishing to have the description set alongside the actual form referred to may have to open a second window and show it on their computer (or print a page). The six Picture numbers run from 3186 – 3191 this being section 5.
Picture added on 20 January 2016 at 20:27
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Forestry Records, Booklets and Maps
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Forestry Records, Booklets and Maps

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