It’s about people, more than wilding pines
A report from the Contractor forum in Twizel, October 2022 by Haeleigh Turner
In October, the National Programme Operations team – Alan Tinnelly (national operations lead), Adam Ross (southern operations) and Jonathan Tunnell (health and safety) – hosted around 40 people in Twizel, for a full day contractor-lead forum. The day was all about the people doing the hard work of wilding control, doing the mahi on the ground and in the air, and a chance to share their thoughts and experiences around the Programme.
The group heard from a varied programme of speakers on equally varied topics: training, mechanised harvesting, bioenergy, ground-based crews, contract managers, and the National Programme were all covered.
Discussions were robust and open, and travelled the many positives and challenges of wilding control work.
Most presentation topics centred around wellbeing, safety, and mental health of staff both during and outside work. These led to important conversations on team culture, women in the wilding control industry, attitudes around alcohol use, working away from home and getting support when facing challenges.
There was interesting chat around social license and the complexities of working with landowners, particularly in the rural/urban fringe, where wilding infestations often cross multiple property boundaries. Successful control operations require buy-in from all parties, who may have varying perspectives and varying degrees of understanding about the reasons to remove wildings.
Practical skills and development were discussed too, including investing in worker competency, safe chainsaw use, and training opportunities.