BSc (Hon) Ecology and Environment
MSc Resource Conservation Biology
PhD in Botany (under way)
Forestry career: 13 years
Being a pine tree breeder makes me the custodian of the pine germplasm. It is my job to improve pine material so that we increase the volumes harvested and become self-reliant in an ever-shrinking or limited landholding. This is achieved by planting trials under various conditions and selecting the hybrid or pure species that will not only yield the best qualities and volumes but also have the highest potential for survival. Everything we do today counts in the future and it is beyond satisfying to see my work evolve from science to value addition for Mondi. It’s fulfilling to see the seed produced by our team grow into huge, beautiful trees and to recognise that from these trials they will be rolled out into the plantations.
WHY I LOVE WORKING IN THE FORESTRY SECTOR
As a tree hugger, I have a great balance of office time and being out in the forest. There are endless challenges in forestry, including plant survival, pest and diseases, climate change and continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is what I strive for, in my personal life and for my team. I enjoy brainstorming ideas to solve problems with the team and other collaborators and seeing the fruits of these solutions manifest for the benefit of the department and forestry in general.
MY ADVICE TO THOSE EXPLORING A CAREER IN FORESTRY
It is a challenging industry to work in, even more so if you have a family to raise. It is, however, highly rewarding, especially if you are a nature-loving person who is fascinated by how nature works.
There are some jobs in forestry that demand physical fitness, but women can definitely still perform these. Many other opportunities demand more brainpower than brute strength. More often than not, you will find yourself in a room full of men, and this is something that we, as women, should be looking to change. Women are natural problem-solvers, are able to compromise and are great team players – all characteristics needed in this sector.