Bogong ski tragedy claims eminent forest scientist
Dr Blair, a husband and father of two teenage boys, worked at the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society and completed his Phd only months ago into the effects of fire and logging on plants.
Professor of Ecology at the Fenner School, David Lindenmayer, said his colleague of more than ten years was “one of the best forest botanists in Victoria”.
“He was one of those really special people, and I know people always wax lyrical when someone has died, but he really was,” Professor Lindenmayer said.
“He was passionate about forests, he was passionate about the outdoors and you’d go a long way to see a more dedicated father than he was. He put in a huge amount of time with his kids and family.”
“A lot of bad things happen in the world, but the world is still a beautiful place, and there are lots of good people in the world. Dave Blair was one of those people.”
Close friend Sarah Rees described Dr Blair as a man who loved his family, work and community.
“I don’t just say this lightly, he was extraordinarily intelligent, and kind, and community-orientated, and he gave himself unconditionally to his causes,” she said.
“He was just an incredible father, he was always there for his boys. The family is a real centrepiece for our community. They contribute so much and give so much … this is a massive loss to the Victorian community and the scientific fraternity.”
Ms Rees said her friend was a keen snow enthusiast, hiker, climber and mountain bike rider. He was also involved in local soccer, Scouts and was part of a group that helped protect Healesville from the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.
After the fires, he began with the ANU as a field ecologist and dedicated himself to post-fire and post-logging vegetation recovery.
Professor Lindenmayer said Dr Blair completed his Phd while also working full-time, an almost impossible feat in his field of study.
“In working for me he was five days a week in the forest,” the professor said. “He was measuring trees, measuring logs, ferns and plants, so he had an intimate botanical knowledge of how that forest works. He was one of the best forest botanists in Victoria.
“But he was also good with possums, gliders, birds and reptiles – he knew the natural history of large parts of victoria incredibly well.”
Dr Blair’s was also part of the Forest Stewardship Council’s standards development group that wrote the national standard for Australia in 2018.
Zach is a reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org