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Galbraith, Alfred Vernon (1890–1949)

from Australian Forestry

News of the death on March 29th, 1949, of Mr. A. V. [Alfred Vernon] Galbraith, Chairman of the Victorian Forests Commission, was received while the previous issue of the Journal was in press, and it was not possible to include in that number more than a very brief announcement.

The late Mr. Galbraith was a conspicuous figure in forestry circles in Australia over a long period of years. He was associated with the Victorian Forests Commission from 1920, when he was appointed its Secretary, until the time of his death. He became Commissioner of Forests in 1924, and was elevated to the chairmanship in 1927.

Mr. Galbraith was widely known not only throughout Australia but also to overseas foresters. He took a leading part in the deliberations of the British Empire Forestry Conference which was held in Australia during 1928, and represented Victoria at the conference in South Africa in 1935. He had intended to be present at the 1947 conference in Great Britain but owing to ill-health was forced to abandon this visit.

Mr. Galbraith was associated with many important developments in forestry policy, administration and practice in Victoria, and his regime witnessed many outstanding events, such as the enactment of new forest legislation in 1927 and 1939, the establishment of the paper pulp industry in Victoria in 1936, the calamitous forest fires in 1926, 1932 and 1939, Victoria’s notable achievements in the organization of timber supplies to sustain Australia’s war effort in the Pacific zone, and the spectacular development of mechanization in connection with forest engineering, fire protection and utilization.

He was keenly concerned with methods of training for Australian foresters and constantly endeavoured to improve the facilities available to trainees at the Victorian School of Forestry, Creswick. During his tenure of office as Chairman of the Forests Commission, he was responsible for raising the standards at the school, linking the tuition more closely with that at the University of Melbourne in the basic science subjects, increasing staff, and giving the school itself a larger responsibility in organization and management of the school forest areas of both native hardwoods and exotic conifers.

He instituted also an active policy of assisting officers of the Victorian service to take higher training at Universities at home and abroad. Development of this policy culminated in the institution of the course at Melbourne University for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Forestry, comprising two years at the University and Forest Products Laboratories, following the three years at Creswick.

It is in no small measure due to these far seeing actions that Victoria now has, in spite of many difficulties associated with government controlled staffs, a well-trained, vigorous and enthusiastic forestry personnel. This fact has been of major importance in providing key staff officers to other government bodies requiring experienced foresters, to private corporations with similar needs, and to timber utilization organizations in various Australian States.


Although not himself a technical forester by training, he was able to forward the cause of his chosen vocation in a wide circle of influential friends and public men. He lost no opportunity of keeping the needs of forestry in the public eye, and regarded public relations work as an essential step in improving the facilities he and his staff were expected to use in their day to day activities.

He possessed the Diploma of Commerce of Melbourne University, the Diploma of Forestry, and was an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. Mr. Galbraith was a returned soldier of World War I, and served overseas in the A.I.F. with the rank of captain. He is survived by a widow, three sons and a daughter, and this opportunity is taken of extending to them and other relatives our very sincere expressions of sympathy in their bereavement. Mr. Galbraith’s passing has removed from the sphere of Australian forestry an able administrator, and his wide circle of friends and forestry associates, both in Australia and overseas, will miss this very genial and colourful personality.

Original publication

  • Australian Forestry, vol 13, no 1, January 1949, pp 6-7

Other Obituaries for Alfred Vernon Galbraith

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Galbraith, Alfred Vernon (1890–1949)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 October 2020.

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