Top award reflects passion for industry
Ernslaw One Gisborne engineering manager, Megan Costello, says there are more women coming into the forestry profession so winning the inaugural Woman in Forestry Excellence Award at the 2019 Eastland Wood Council Forestry Awards was very gratifying.
“It’s recognition that women face different challenges in a male dominated industry and acknowledging that there are women in the industry who make a significant contribution,” she says.
Megan believes it was her history of working hard within the forestry sector to bring in new ideas and also developing initiatives to improve roading operations and environmental outcomes within the forests that were the main factors in her winning the award.
Megan has been instrumental in the installation and trialling of sediment catchers, increasing grass seeding on batters to reduce sediment in protected waterways, while increasing fluming on new roads.
Megan has also worked alongside the Gisborne District Council to improve the relationship between the local forest industry and council to improve the consenting process and clarify consent wording to deliver improved compliance.
She has also focused heavily in health and safety, ensuring contractors are up to speed and assisting them with the right training.
The Gisborne Engineering Team was recently awarded the EOL National Quarterly Health and Safety Excellence award.
This was for its work in identifying gaps in the induction process for those contractors working at a forest level and developing a way to ensure that relevant resource consent conditions and Emergency Location Points were communicated effectively.
Megan has also applied her passion for the forest industry by volunteering at the local Careers Fair and presenting to school guidance counsellors and school groups to promote the variety of career options within the forest industry.
Megan’s role as Gisborne engineering manager sees her responsible for a team of three staff and the budgets for roading construction, maintenance and planning matters.
This team is also responsible for the management of five roading contractors and ensuring the work is conducted in alignment with health and safety regulations and environmental best practices.
Megan’s numerous qualifications include occupational health and safety level 4, Women in Leadership training (Accelerated Leadership Performance Program), Scotwork negotiation and STMS level 1.
Megan says that in her current role she has had to overcome numerous challenges including adapting to new industry legislation requirements, modifying plans due to damaged infrastructure, and prioritising work with limited contractor availability.
Her past experience working in the forest industry in a planning role – which includes experience in Canada, Australia and New Zealand – has demonstrated her ability to engage with stakeholders including local government, industry level working groups, regulatory authorities, neighbours, and local first nations, aboriginal and Iwi groups.
Megan hopes winning the award will help to highlight to other women the career opportunities in the forestry industry.
“Women aren’t always visible in this industry so it’s about showing young women in the region that this is a viable career option and that it is possible to combine having a family with a complex and challenging career path.”