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Maxwell Ralph (Max) Jacobs (1905–1979)

from Canberra Times

Dr Maxwell Ralph Jacobs, former Commonwealth director-general of forests, who died in Woden Valley Hospital on Tuesday aged 74, had an association with forestry in the ACT that went back to 1926.

In that year he was appointed forest assessor in the Federal Capital Territory under Mr G. J. Roger, later conservator of forests in South Australia and director-general, Australian Forestry and Timber Bureau, with whom he collaborated for many years.

Dr Jacobs took up his appointment in Canberra after receiving his early education in South Australia. He graduated BSc. in forestry from the University of Adelaide in 1925. On graduation he received the Lowry Scholarship to study forest soils and was one of the first post-graduate students at the Waite Agricultural Research Institute in the University of Adelaide.

In 1928 Dr Jacobs became chief forester of the Federal Capital Territory and in 1929 he received a Commonwealth Scholarship in forest management which enabled him to undertake post-graduate studies at the Imperial Forestry Institute, Oxford, and the Forestry School at Tharandt in Saxony. He received a diploma of forestry from Oxford and a doctorate in forest science from Tharandt.

Returning to Australia, Dr Jacobs carried out a reconnaissance of the timber resources of the Northern Territory in 1933. This resulted in the discovery of some new species of eucalypts and the extension of the known range of others.

From 1934 to 1939 Dr Jacobs worked under Mr C. E. Lane-Poole, inspector-general of forests, as a research officer for the Forestry Bureau and a lecturer at the Australian Forestry School.

One of his research projects was the growth stresses found in growing trees. A pioneer in this field, he produced several papers published by the Forestry Bureau on the subject. Another field of his research was on the effect of wind sway on trees. Dr Jacobs was one of the early workers to use cuttings as a means of multiplying selected trees of pinus radiata on a field scale.

In 1955 much of this work was consolidated in a book The Growth Habits of the Eucalypts, published by the Commonwealth Government Printer, which became a standard text not only in Australia but for countries growing eucalypts throughout the world.

From December 1941 to December 1944 Dr Jacobs served with the Royal Australian Engineers. In December 1944 he was appointed principal and lecturer in silviculture of the Australian Forestry School, holding this post until 1959. In December 1959 he became acting director-general and then director-general of the Forestry and Timber Bureau.

During his service as director-general, Dr Jacobs collaborated with State heads of forest services and Commonwealth and State ministers in the formation of the Australian Forestry Council. He was chairman of the standing committee of the council from 1964 and chairman of the timber industries committee of the Standards Association of Australia from 1966 until 1970.

Outside his profession, Dr Jacobs took a keen interest in cultural societies and community activities. His main hobby was golf.

After his retirement in 1970 from the Public Service, after a career spanning 44 years, Dr Jacobs became a consultant to several organisations including the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

His wife, Phyllis, died in 1976 and he is survived by two daughters, Janice and Nancy, and five grandchildren.

The funeral service for Dr Jacobs will be held at St Andrew’s Church, Forrest, at 2pm today.

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'Jacobs, Maxwell Ralph (Max) (1905–1979)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

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