Remembering Jerry Leech

REMEMBERING JERRY: Dr Leech is known in the community for his ongoing forestry knowledge and his lifelong support to the Lakes Rotary Club.



Born: December 24, 1940, Adelaide

Died: Sunday 26, 2023 Mount Gambier

THE community is mourning the loss of Jerry Leech AM.

Dr Leech is known in the community for his ongoing forestry knowledge and his lifelong support to the Lakes Rotary Club.

He was born to Merle and Wilf, a carpenter-builder-joiner, on December 24, 1940 and attended Queens College and Pulteney Grammar School.

Here he was a prefect and Dux of the school.

Dr Leech then attended the University of Adelaide where he studied a Bachelor of Science before moving onto the Australian Forestry School in Canberra where he received a Diploma with Distinction.

When he was an undergraduate at Saint Marks he met Mary Frostand before marrying in 1964.

The couple had three daughters, Bridget, Johanna and Hilary, as well as six grandchildren.

Dr Leech was posted to the South East before being transferred to the branch managing forest resources.

In 1969 he studied computer programming and systems analysis and design and developed the early forest management planning systems.

Dr Leech became a Member of the Australian Computer Society in 1973 where he was also awarded a MSc degree from the Australian National University and a PhD in 1978.

The models Dr Leech developed then are still being used some 40-years later.

From 1970, he was responsible for the systems analysis, design and implementation of the system for making long-term predictions of forest growth from radiata pine estate then owned by the State Government.

Dr Leech was also responsible for much of the biometrics.

The system came into its own after the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires destroyed about one third of the forest.

During his career, Dr Leech mentored many young scientists and foresters where he was also respected by his peers for his technical skills and knowledge.

From 1986, he carried out 30 international consultancies which was mostly for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in Myanmar, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Italy.

Over a 13-year period he also spent five of these on consultancy missions and professionally, he considered the consultancies his greatest challenges and greatest successes.

Dr Leech resigned as Principal Scientist, Forestry Systems in 1994 to become a consultant which was a role he continued until about 2014.

He was also a joint Technical Editor of the Australian Forest Valuation Standard in 2001 which he also kept until 2014.

Dr Leech was very proud of the 2007 version with its associated handbook and in 2013 he was a member of an international working party on forest valuation.

He was also a long standing member of the Institute of Foresters of Australia and the Association of Consulting Foresters of Australia.

Dr Leech was also a member of the Australian Computer Society and the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute as well as being elevated to Fellow of the Institute of Foresters of Australia.

In 2009 he was awarded the Regional Medal for South East Asia-Pacific by the Commonwealth Forestry Association and in 2021 he was also awarded the N.W Jolly Medal by Forestry Australia.

It was in 2022 that Dr Leech was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his significant service to the forest industry, to tertiary education and to the community.

Dr Leech was also an Adjunct Professor at Southern Cross University and a Principal Fellow at the University of Melbourne with the title of associate professor.

During his career, Dr Leech was responsible for about 200 books, refereed papers, reports for the United Nations and other consultancy clients, conferences and other published miscellanea.

He was also a member of the Rotary Club of Mount Gambier Lakes from 1989 onwards, an international director and bulletin editor for a number of years as well as spending many years on district committees.

Dr Leech was also a life member of the Mount Gambier Beefsteak and Burgundy Club and was proud of his work as vice president and treasurer of the Ryder-Cheshire Mount Gambier Home Foundation.

When he was not directly involved with community organisations, Dr Leech enjoyed playing tennis and golf during his younger years before taking on bridge.