Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Boreham the Conservationist

Replenish the Soil
Boreham repeatedly called for the conserv-ation and replenish-ment of the soil,[1] the care of the world’s rivers[2] and the conserv-ation of water in the dryness and heat of Australia,[3] particularly in the 1930s and 1940s when drought and overuse of the land in many states caused severe erosion. In describing the intellectual conflict over land use, Drew Hutton and Libby Connors write, “Wise resource use and nature protection were thus two strands of early conservation that capitalized on nationalistic progressivism. On the other hand, the mastery of those resources by human scientific and technical skills was doubly praised”.[4] Boreham’s encouragement of the nation’s greatness through increasing the population and markets indicated that he sometimes resolved this tension by arguing in favor of production rather than protection.

All People not Fanatics
While Boreham applauded the establishment of National Parks and wilderness areas by government, he also called all his readers to care for the properties where they lived. This was and continues to be an important combination as Sydney ecologist Martin Mulligan, in reflecting on the issues facing conservationists in Australia in the twenty-first century, says: “The concern for preservation of wilderness … sets up a conceptual separation between people living mainly in cities and towns and the remote ‘pristine’ areas deemed worthy of preservation. This helped create a perception that nature conservation is a matter for fanatics, eccentrics and experts; not a concern for ‘ordinary’ people”.[5]

Priority for Politicians
Boreham called politicians to exercise respect and responsibility towards the land but his view “that we are all naturalists” highlights that he understood that the tasks of conserving and replenishing nature were incumbent on every citizen in their locality.[6]

Geoff Pound

Image: “replenishing the soil.”

[1] Boreham, Mercury, 5 March 1914; Mercury, 11 October 1941; Age, 20 September 1947.
[2] Boreham, Mercury, 23 November 1940; Age, 15 March 1941.
[3] Boreham, Mercury, 29 May 1914.
[4] Hutton and Connors, A history of the Australian environmental movement, 21.
[5] Martin Mulligan, Re-enchanting conservation work: Reflections on the Australian experience, February, 2001, 2.
[6] Boreham, A witch’s brewing, 197.