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Andrew (Andy) Keeves (1927–2001)

Andrew Keeves, n.d.

Andrew Keeves, n.d.

The Institute of Foresters of Australia has awarded the N. W. Jolly Medal, its highest award for merit in forestry, to Andrew Keeves. The citation leading to this award is as follows:

Andrew Keeves ranks pre-eminently in Australian forestry today in the integrated fields of forest mensuration and management. Few have acquired the knowledge and experience that both he and the group he has led in South Australia since 1969 have. It is of interest that the foundations of this leadership were laid by N. W. Jolly himself and ably followed by N. B. Lewis to whom Andrew Keeves was appointed assistant in 1960.

All through his career in forest mensuration, inventory and regulation of the forest yield, Andrew has had to break new ground. This was due to the pioneer South Australian pine forests being decades more advanced in age and utilisation than those in other States, resulting in the need to develop far more complex and accurate data systems in comparison with those already in existence.

Andrew Keeves' major professional contributions have come from -

(i) his deep understanding of the nature of forest sampling problems and their solution; and

(ii) his ability to put the results of forest mensuration and management into information systems serving both long-term strategic needs on one hand and short-term cutting plan needs on the other.

The rapid incorporation of data produced from the inventory of the pine plantations which, when company, or environmentalists' actions and proposals in terms of sound forestry practice. Some actions and proposals may well prove to be at variance with good forestry, especially during the present sparring between State and Federal Governments in which welfare of the forest may not be the first consideration. Nearly all of us owe loyalty to employers; but loyalty should not be unconditional. We must applaud sound decisions and actions; but if we attempt to defend the indefensible, even implicitly, then rightly we will be seen as accomplices before the fact. The Institute has accepted that foresters must adopt an independent stance on forestry matters. Now we must make sure that it becomes a reality. Andrew Keeves bined with the results of thinning and associated computer technology, produced results which can be regarded as a benchmark in Australian forestry. Not only were the systems comprehensive enough to serve South Australian forest management but, by the late 1960s, were flexible enough to evaluate in great detail the long-term effects on the forest of various management alternatives.

These systems have been continually refined under Andrew Keeves' direction so that now, when coupled to economic evaluation programs, information for tactical and strategic decision-making can be quickly provided. It should be emphasised that the mensurational relationships which underlie this capacity to produce valuable forest management information, which allow for flexibility without loss of accuracy, are a direct result of the quality of his insight, innovation and the standards in mensuration which he has set and seen maintained.

This is not work which is easily appreciated or a glamorous aspect of forestry research and development; it is not problem-solving of the kind which disposes of obvious and harmful agencies. It is, however, absolutely vital for sound forest policy management and decision-making in pine plantation forestry.

This has been borne out in a most spectacular way following the disastrous forest fires of Ash Wednesday 1983, in which a significant proportion of the Woods and Forests Department's pine forest resource was destroyed within a few hours. Literally within days a full appreciation of the losses and their implications for medium-term and long-term management of the remaining forest estate was available. New guidelines were drawn up and a total re-appraisal of the options available was possible. Crop rotation length, allowable cut and log size production targets were reviewed and confidence in the future of the enterprise and dependent industry was restored, despite the huge amount of devastation in the forest and the massive salvage operation which will go down into the history books. The products of the foresight and professional expertise of Andy Keeves have been invaluable to the Woods and Forests Department of South Australia.

Andrew Keeves was a foundation member and past Chairman of the Research Working Group No. 2, Mensuration and Management, where he has come to command considerable respect.

In 1970 he visited New Zealand under the Research Officer Exchange Scheme and further broadened the scope of his plantation management knowledge.

The forest resource in South Australia is relatively inflexible, with cut approximately equal to increment, most stands thinned to the desired regime and with no suitable land available for increased planting. During the last decade, Andy has planned the regulation of yield from the forest and has given the lead to other forest managers in Australia where similar problems will occur in the future. A very large part of Woods and Forests Department Bulletin No. 23. in fact, is a monument to Andrew Keeves' efforts.

He has been concerned with the education of technical grade officers and made a major contribution to the establishment of a Forestry Technology Certificate Course at the South East Community College in Mount Gambier. Prior to the appointment, by the Department of Further Education, of a full time staff member to the position of Senior Lecturer in Forestry and Timber Studies, he acted as Course Co-ordinator for some ten years. The benefit of this course to the forest industry has been widely recognised and as a consequence has been broadened in scope to provide a parallel course for technicians employed in the timber processing industries.

Andrew Keeves is a member of the group of able forest scientists which N. B. Lewis gathered during the 1950s to 1970s. Under Lewis' inspiration and foresight, Andrew Keeves was able to provide to his employer not only the building blocks but the edifice of a thoroughly comprehensive management framework tor pine plantation forestry.

Andrew Keeves currently leads the Forestry Management Group (Research. Resources and Systems Branch) in the Research and Development Division of the South Australian Woods and Forests Department. He is noted for his honesty, integrity and intense loyalty to his employer and to the forestry profession. He has instilled professional pride into all who have had the fortune to work with him. A growing number of professional foresters, both in South Australia and elsewhere, treat him as mentor, seeking his professional counsel and advice on a diverse range of subjects not necessarily related to his special interests.

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'Keeves, Andrew (Andy) (1927–2001)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012