John Ednie Brown (1848 - 1899)

Brown was a silviculturist, born in Scotland, son of James Brown, LL.D., deputy-surveyor of woods and forests. He was educated in Edinburgh but left school at 15 to work with his father’s and after three years, he was sent to the Invercauld estate in Aberdeenshire where he learnt the profession of assistant agent and forester. He then moved to England where he laid out plantations and managed estates in Yorkshire and Sussex.

In 1871-72 Brown visited the United States and Canada, gathering more useful information on trees and forests. As a result he wrote ‘Report upon Trees found in California’ and ‘Forests of the Eastern States of America’ for which he received the gold medal of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. In 1878 he was offered the position of conservator of forests of South Australia.

He returned briefly to England and arrived in Adelaide on 15 September. His first report showed the thoroughness with which he had made himself acquainted with the situation and possibilities of the South Australian forests, but he was bitterly disappointed when its adoption was opposed on technical grounds by the chairman of the Forest Board, Goyder who was himself qualified in forestry.

Brown wrote A Practical Treatise on Tree Culture in South Australia, and presented the manuscript to the Forest Board in 1880. It was printed by the government and the board distributed 2000 copies free and sold another 1000 to cover printing costs. In 1883 the Forest Board was disbanded and Brown was placed directly under the commissioner of crown lands

In 1890 Brown accepted the position of director-general of forests in New South Wales and when his position was made vacant he took up a position with the Bureau of Agriculture in Western Australia in 1895. Brown produced a report on WAS forests in 1896 and the Department of Woods and Forests was created, with Brown as its first conservator. In his brief régime much planting of softwoods was initiated, some sandalwood was sown, seedlings were distributed to encourage annual arbor days, and the value of hardwood exports rose by five times to reach more than £550,000. The commissioner of crown lands declared that ‘it would be a calamity to dispense with the services of so useful an officer as the Conservator of Forests’, and Charles John Moran, M.L.A., proclaimed him ‘the first authority on timber in Australia’.

After an attack of influenza Brown died at his home in Cottesloe on 26 October 1899, aged 50.

Choose currency

Exchange rates are only indicative. All orders will be processed in Australian dollars. The actual amount charged may vary depending on the exchange rate and conversion fees applied by your credit card issuer.

Account Login

The List

Join our exclusive mailing list for first access to new acquisitions and special offers.