Forestry Precinct

Our Forestry Precinct is in Yarralumla, ACT, where a number of our information management and technology staff are located.

Description and plan (including name and location)

Section 4, Block 7, Yarralumla
Street Address: Banks Street, Yarralumla, 2601
Building 002 – Forestry House
Building 009 – Former Forestry School
Building 010 – Former Museum Store
Building 017 – Store

Discrete heritage place identification number for each place

Place ID: 105595
Place File No: 8/01/000/0115

Details of ownership or other tenure arrangements

The site is currently leased by CSIRO. CSIRO has control of the site and is therefore responsible for heritage management.

Summary description of any significant physical characteristics and elements of the place

The Forestry Precinct comprises about 11 hectares of land that includes groups of buildings mainly comprising the former Australian Forestry School that are clustered around an oval, plant nursery and arboretum.

The former Forestry School is significant for its architectural design, its contribution to the townscape and its place in the early social history of Canberra. The buildings (main building and former museum building) are good examples of the simplified Classical approach common to Federal Capital Commission designs of the period. The timbers used in the building are examples from every Australian state and an effort has been made in the design to use otherwise common timbers in a decorative way. Significantly, Australian timbers have been used instead of exotic timbers. 

Sequential summary of the use of the place 

  • 1927 – 1968: Australian Forestry School
  • 1968 – 1975: Forestry and Timber Bureau
  • 1975 – 2004: CSIRO Division of Forest Research/CSIRO Corporate
  • 2004 – Current: CSIRO and external tenants 

Statement of significance, identifying heritage values and specifying any that are Commonwealth Heritage Values

The CSIRO Forestry Precinct, located within the larger Forestry Precinct (RNE No. 102273), is the Commonwealth’s centre for forestry and timber research.  It is a complex of buildings, arboretum, nursery, and tennis courts forming an important national scientific institution, established as a response to Federation to provide a national forestry school and national forest research centre. It demonstrates both the Commonwealth’s interest in scientific endeavour and a vision for Canberra as the location for science as well as general government administration.

The precinct is associated with the international interest in forestry and is important for an array of scientific achievements, such as PINUS RADIATA propagation and breeding and the Australian Tree Seed program.

The precinct is important as a component of the arboretum and nursery landscape of Yarralumla. The tree-growing trials which constitute the arboretum identified trees suitable for the urban forests of Canberra and at the same time provided public park amenity for the Canberra community. Yarralumla Nursery to the north of the arboretum has supplied planting stock for Canberra’s parks, streets and residential blocks since 1914.

Within the precinct, the former Australian Forestry School (RNE: 013338) reflects the successful outcome of efforts to establish a national forestry school in the new national capital to produce professional foresters for federal and state services, and forestry research workers. (Criterion A4) Australian Historic Theme 8.10: Pursing excellence in the arts and sciences, advancing knowledge in science and technology.

The precinct is important for its array of features from different phases of development linked to the scientific and educational purpose of the site. These features include the former Australian Forestry School, the former Offices of the Forestry and Timber Bureau, the former Seed Storage Building, Forestry House and Caretakers Cottage, the CSIRO Divisional Headquarters, Controlled Environment Laboratory, tennis courts, arboretum plantings and moveable objects of furniture, collections and historic timber hauling vehicles. (Criterion A3)

The arboretum is an important reference site containing experimental plantings and a significant genetic resource for Australia. (Criterion C2) 

The precinct has an aesthetic quality based on the historic character of the former Australian Forestry School building, the former Office of the Forestry and Timber Bureau, Forestry House and the modern Headquarters building all set in the mature forest plantings of Westbourne Woods arboretum. The School, including its formal landscaped frontage and with its arboretum setting, is the terminal feature of the Schlich Street axial vista, and a major landmark feature of Yarralumla. (Criterion E1)

The precinct, as a complete small-scale research and learning institution with classical style architecture and recreation grounds, reflects the design concepts that were held in the early 20th century for such places. Within the precinct, the former Australian Forestry School is significant as a fine example of early twentieth-century architecture. The timbers used in panelling, flooring and joinery of the school, particularly the octagonal entrance foyer, evidence a high degree of creative and artistic achievement. (Criterion F1)

The precinct has social importance to the former students educated at the place and the forestry scientists who have conducted research there. (Criterion G.)

The Australian Forestry School has a strong association with pioneers of forestry research in Australia, Charles E Lane Poole and Dr Maxwell R Jacobs. The arboretum is important for its association with T C G Weston who directed the major plantings in the 1910s and 1920s. (Criterion H)

A record of any other heritage listings

Also on former National Heritage List – RNE 102273.

Dates and natures of any works, maintenance or other activity that is relevant to conservation of heritage values

Ref 2008 Heritage Management Plan for history of site and building changes.

Property or information access restrictions/requirements

The building is currently occupied by CSIRO and external tenants.  Access is limited and must be arranged through CSIRO Business and Infrastructure Services. For access to this premises, please e-mail

Consultation requirements relating to the place


Relevant conservation documents or references 

  • 2008 Heritage Management Plan prepared by Peter Freeman Pty Ltd Conservation Architects & Planners
  • 2001 Conservation Management Plan

A record of when information has been updated

2001 and 2008.

Records of any objects that are significant by association with the place, indicating their current location and/or archived records of particular importance to the heritage values of the place

The Max Jacobs Collection includes the following:

  • Two chairs of Queensland Maple – possibly ex original Meeting Room of Forestry School
  • Secretaire – made primarily from Queensland Maple and formerly part of the furnishings in the principal’s office
  • Long Queensland Maple table supported on three pairs of legs – originally located in the Australian Forestry School Library
  • Dr Max Jacobs’ office chair
  • Dr Max Jacobs' papers and personal items
  • Ten Queensland maple framed chairs with blue vinyl seats and backs, from Forestry House. These are standard Commonwealth furniture.
  • Cabinet constructed in 1982 by staff members as a result of a bequest by the family of Dr Jacobs, jarrah timber donated by Millers Timber and Trading Co and constructed by J Hansen.

Collection stored in another CSIRO Building.


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