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Best Practice Study Tour grant awarded

4 September 2023

The WIDE Trust is excited to announce Rachel Millar as the latest recipient of a Best Practice Study Tour grant. This grant will enable Rachel to embark on an international journey, delving into cutting-edge practices and innovations in the forestry and wood processing industries. As we celebrate Rachel’s achievements, we want to remind everyone that applications for a Best Practice Study Tour grant remain open at all times, providing a rare opportunity for others to apply and follow in Rachel’s footsteps.

Meet Rachel Millar: A Visionary Environmental Manager

Rachel Millar works as the Environmental Manager for the New Zealand Forest Owners Association ((FOA) and the Forest Growers Levy Trust (FGLT)). Her dedication is highlighted by her co-ordination of the FOA submission to the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use in Tairāwhiti-Gisborne and Wairoa – demonstrating her commitment to developing comprehensive solutions for managing environmental impacts. Rachel’s multifaceted role within FOA/FGLT involves providing advice to boards, engaging with stakeholders, and promoting work on sustainable best practices that contribute to industry growth.

A Compelling Business Case for a Study Tour

Rachel’s application to the WIDE Trust for a Best Practice Study Tour grant is driven by a compelling business case that revolves around two key study themes.

The first centres on solutions for woody debris and sediment management, directly tied to the outcomes of the Ministerial Inquiry. Drawing upon her involvement in the FOA submission into the inquiry, Rachel seeks to gain insights from international counterparts who have effectively managed similar environmental challenges. Her goal is to bolster the forestry sector’s response to the inquiry’s recommendations and ensure evidence-based decisions lead to optimal outcomes for both the industry, our taiao (environment) and the affected communities.

The second theme focuses on addressing the social licence crisis currently faced by New Zealand’s forestry sector following Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle. This crisis underscores the importance of enhancing public perception and navigating backlash related to environmental impacts. By exploring successful strategies employed by other nations, Rachel aims to equip the forestry sector with the tools needed to regain public trust and build a stronger social licence to operate.

A Global Perspective Study Tour Proposal

Rachel’s study tour itinerary well-considered, encompassing several priority locations that hold the potential to provide valuable insights for the New Zealand forestry sector. Her proposed destinations include:

1. Pacific Northwest, United States: This region’s forest harvesting practices on steep slopes mirror the settings found in Tairāwhiti-Gisborne, Wairoa, and other New Zealand locations. Rachel aims to learn from the prescriptive regulations, good practice guidelines, and innovative biodiversity protection measures in place.

2. Southeast United States: Given the vulnerability of forest ecosystems to climate variability, this area offers valuable lessons in adaptive management and strategies for mitigating the effects of climate change on forests.

3. Tasmania, Australia: With similar challenges to New Zealand, Tasmania’s forestry practices, including the Forest Practices Authority’s successful implementation of clear operational standards, serve as a beneficial framework for addressing issues such as social licence and environmental performance.

4. Chile and Brazil, South America: Both nations provide unique insights into mixed forest management, remediation of degraded land, and the harmonious coexistence of production and conservation in the forestry sector.

Anticipating Positive Impact

Rachel’s study tour itinerary isn’t just about personal growth—it’s about creating a positive impact on New Zealand’s forestry sector as a whole. By sharing her learnings with the Forestry Sector Environment Committee, FOA and FGLT boards, wood councils, and other relevant stakeholders, Rachel aims to catalyse positive change.

Rachel’s application highlights the immense potential of the WIDE Trust’s Best Practice Study Tour grant to shape the future of forestry and wood industries in New Zealand. If you’re passionate about exploring innovative practices, learning from international counterparts, and making a positive impact on the sector, we encourage you to apply for this transformative opportunity. Applications for a Best Practice Study Tour grant are open year-round, ensuring individuals with a vision for progress always have a chance to contribute to the industry’s growth and sustainability.

Source: The WIDE Trust

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