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de Beuzeville, Wilfred Alexander (1884–1954)

by L. T. Carron

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Wilfred Alexander Watt de Beuzeville (1884-1954), forester, was born at Aston station, Bombala, New South Wales, on 13 February 1884, son of James Paroissien Beuzeville, station manager, and his wife Hannah Ann, née Watt, and grandson of James Beuzeville. He was educated at a private school at Bombala and at Tumut Superior Public School, passing the junior public examination in 1899, then worked on the land. He was a grazier at Tumut when he married Frances Helena Ratliff on 9 January 1907 with Anglican rites.

De Beuzeville joined the Department of Forestry (Forestry Commission from 1916) on 26 March 1912, and was stationed at Warialda. As a forest assessor from November 1915, he surveyed the resources of the Pilliga scrub, south-west of Narrabri, and worked directly under E. H. F. Swain. In 1920 he became assistant forester at Tumbarumba and in 1925 was promoted senior forester. At Tumut from September 1925 until 1928 he supervised the establishment of the conifer plantations. With the local headmaster C. A. Teasdale he helped to establish the Tumut School Forest, which interested children in forestry, and became a source of revenue for the school. From 1928 he was stationed in the metropolitan district, Sydney.

De Beuzeville showed great interest in the native forest flora, particularly the eucalypts, which he studied avidly. While in the Tumut district he found and collected specimens of the snow gum that was named Eucalyptus debeuzevillei (now E. pauciflora ssp. debeuzevillei) after him. He corresponded with J. H. Maiden and contributed to his A Critical Revision of the Genus Eucalyptus (1903-33). De Beuzeville made extensive collections of specimens for the National Herbarium of New South Wales. In 1930-35 he obtained numerous botanical and timber samples for the forest products division of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Canberra.

Supported and guided by Swain, who became commissioner of forestry in 1935, de Beuzeville travelled widely into many of the previously little-known forested areas along the eastern escarpment zone, reporting on their timber resources and paving the way for their later development. He selected and arranged the purchase of the land for the Cumberland State Forest at West Pennant Hills, overseeing its development as one of the finest arboreta in Australia; expanded the Forestry Commission's nurseries that supplied seedlings for use on farms; and promoted the wider use of native plants. In 1938 he became a divisional officer and from 1947 headed the new forest ecology branch. He refined Swain's climatological classification and tried to apply it on the basis of inadequate weather information to the State. He published the Climatological Basis of Forestry (1943) and Australian Trees for Australian Planting (1947).

After he retired in 1948 de Beuzeville worked in Australia for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on the selection of eucalypts suitable for planting in Ethiopia. In 1949-50 he visited Britain and Europe. He was a fellow of the Royal and Linnean societies of New South Wales and was a member of the Empire Forestry Association, England, from 1924 and of the Institute of Foresters of Australia from 1939.

Survived by a son and daughter, de Beuzeville died of coronary-vascular disease in hospital at Kiama on 28 March 1954 and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Linnean Society of New South Wales, Proceedings, 80 (1955)
  • de Beuzeville papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • private information.

Additional Resources

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Citation details

L. T. Carron, 'de Beuzeville, Wilfred Alexander (1884–1954)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/de-beuzeville-wilfred-alexander-5936/text10119, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 25 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

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