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Dr David Bergin, Forester of the Year

by 13 Jun 2009Pioneering0 comments

Cover of bulletin: Kauri

Bulletin Bible: Peter Caccia-Birch, who considers Kauri his Bible, did not expect to find himself working with the son of its joint author, forester of the year Dr David Bergin. publisher New Zealand Forest Research Institute

Unintentionally, it had bordered on false advertising.

To offer to prospective planters the prospect of discussing their interest in indigenous plants with one of Aotearoa’s most interesting tree scientists, Dr David Bergin.

However the volunteer who was bursting with questions for the experts, was unaware that David Bergin had planned to be there, setting up the trials at Goodall Reserve. And thanks to David’s son and business partner, Michael, having completed his tōtara measuring work in Northland in record time [he clearly had the services of a faster scribe than the editor], he was on hand to check the design of the trial, and mark the position of each plant with a dot of paint—all 1680 of them, with the speed and hand–eye co-ordination of a super hero.

Consequently, the said volunteer, Peter (a.k.a Pete the Picasso) Caccia-Birch, didn’t need to be fobbed off by being told he’d had to attend some forestry conference in Nelson.

But you chaps are busy here with this trial; I mustn’t interrupt.

Michael would have none of it, and the two were soon high-tailing it to the Highfield Garden Reserve, Peter’s pet project. The mission: To measure the park’s star kauri tree with Michael’s high-tech kit, with view to ascertaining its provenance.

Meantime, Peter had mentioned his bible, Kauri, by some chap Burgess? Berger?

Bergin; that’s my dad!

Then their incredibly small world got curiously smaller. Peter’s father, Thomas T C Birch, was one of the original few who shaped the State Forest Service. He’d studied forestry at Oxford University—in that era there no forestry courses in Aotearoa, but he was help change that.

What Michael wasn’t able to tell Peter, until three days later, was the reason that David Bergin was not at Goodall Reserve himself. It had absolutely been David’s intention to be there, supervising the establishment of the trial. But when he’d attempted to obtain travel authorisation, his bosses directed him in the opposite direction, to Nelson, for the New Zealand Institute of Forestry’s awards dinner, saying he was required to participate in the ceremonies. And although it was hinted that David’s wife, Susan, should accompany him, even as they dressed for the Sunday evening dinner there remained a nagging doubt that the summons was to do with making, rather than receiving, an award. It was receive; Dr David Bergin was named, jointly, forester of the year.

That George Asher, chief executive officer of the Lake Taupō Forest Trust, was the joint recipient, is an indication of the award’s mana—the trust owns 32 000 hectares of Māori land, including 22 000 hectares in planted forest. And given David Bergin’s work with the $81‍ ‍million Lake Taupō Protection Trust, to reduce the cost of establishing indigenous plants, this joint presentation will send a strong message:

The indigenous forestry era has begun.


See alsoOpen-Ground Indigenous Plants Report