Bruce James Beggs ISO, B Sc
Bruce Beggs was born in Dwellingup on 2 February 1928 where his father was a sleeper cutter and timber gatherer or faller who after service in the First World War joined the Field Staff Division of the Forests Department. Bruce attended the government school in Dwellingup and later at Kirup before going on to Bunbury High School and the Christian Brothers’ College in St Georges Terrace, Perth.
His first employment was with the Forest Department as a fifteen year old during the Second World War and he went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science at the University of Western Australia and a Diploma in Forestry at the Australian Forestry School in Canberra. After graduation he commenced work with the Forests Department of Western Australia on 1 March 1951 at Pemberton where his early tasks included assessment of timber volumes in the forest as well as quarantine inspections of imported timber buildings to prevent the introduction of the Sirex Wasp, a serious pine tree pest.
He married in 1954, was appointed as Officer in Charge of Dwellingup and then Divisional Officer Level One before transferring to Manjimup in October 1960. He describes the events leading up to the Dwellingup fire which was started by lightning on 20 January 1961 and how it led to the devastation of the town.
Whilst at Manjimup he became Divisional Forest Officer Grade II, Divisional Forest Officer and Senior Divisional Forester which he feels was the best position he ever had. Following this he became an Inspector and a Superintendent transferring from Manjimup to Perth in 1966 as a Chief of Division where he was responsible for fires and safety. He was appointed Conservator of Forests in 1972.
He got involved with the setting up of the woodchip industry which he felt would utilise the forest material that couldn’t be used for other purposes. He mentions the conflicts and legal battles between the Forests Department and the conservation movement and the resulting polarisation of attitudes that occurred over the management of the old growth forests, the evolving need for multiple uses of forest areas in general and the requirements of the mining industry.
He mentions the changes in communications technology, the techniques used for spotting fires and the introduction of aircraft for fire spotting and fire management as well as prescribed planned burning of the forests to reduce fuel loads and fire risk, aerial photography and mapping and the management of jarrah dieback disease and the resulting forest quarantine restrictions.
He also mentions the need for improvements in safety standards and success in achieving this.
In 1983 he commenced in the position of Director General at the Department of the Premier and Cabinet under the then Premier, the Hon. Brian Burke, and served in that role until his retirement.
Page last updated 27 September 2012