The inaugural Top of the South Forestry Awards marked the start of something quite special for an industry that is so key to the region and look set to become an annual fixture in years to come. It was a true celebration of forestry and all of those involved whether they be from Nelson or Marlborough and everywhere in between.
Industry heroes were awarded across 15 categories with the ultimate trophy going to Heather Arnold of Nelson Forests Limited who won the Skilled Forestry Professional of the Year for 2019. Arnold also took out the Woman in Forestry Excellence category. The category attracted a high standard of entries coming from abroad sweep of the industry including environmental, accountancy, truck driving, and even those who are responsible for calculating the carbon footprint of the industry.
However, Arnold was a standout through her very high standard of work, how she engages with staff and contractors, and provides leadership within the industry – all of which was reiterated by her manager Andrew Karaulus from Nelson Management Limited.
Arnold’s strong passion for environmental management systems has seen her influence the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF). She continues to have sway across a wide spectrum in the industry – from frontline workers through to government politicians. Arnold continues to strengthen her role by seeking out opportunities for training through public speaking, the facilitation of workshops and being part of working groups with a key eye to identifying risks to the business.
Being awarded the 2019 Skilled Forestry Professional of the Year trophy acknowledged she had made a difference both regionally and nationally, through being involved in one of New Zealand’s greatest assets – the environment. Without question judges felt Arnold is an expert in her field, and one who has an enormous understanding of what’s involved in forestry.
Other key companies in the winning line-up included Reed Contracting, Taylors Contracting Company and Moutere Logging.
Also recognised by the judges with a special award was Les Bak, from Nelson Forest Ltd for the significant role the company plays in health and safety which has led to good outcomes for people’s own development alongside improved overall productivity for the business.
Fronting the show was master of ceremonies Paul Ego, TV celebrity and comedian with more than 540 people attending, including VIPs, mayors and politicians from across the region who left a very enjoyable evening with plenty of willingness to make the awards an annual event. The awards emulate a series of forestry awards run around the country and provide a platform to shine a positive light on the many people who work in the industry, including sponsors and forest entities.