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Student story

Angus Moulder

31 August 2023

"The [degree] allowed me to get experience in all different aspects of the forestry industry..."

Studying towards a Bachelor of Forestry Science

Angus Moulder’s a forestry student, who enjoys the conservation side of his degree. Over a month, he helped electrocute trees.

Moulder discovered University of Canterbury’s Biosecurity Innovations initiative (UCBI) while looking for work experience he could put towards his degree.

“I’ve always had an interest in conservation and biosecurity in New Zealand, so the opportunity to do some real-life research … was very valuable and interesting to me.”

In 2021, Moulder worked on the wilding pines project with a pest control company. Hand tools, chainsaws and poisons were provided to deal with the conifers.

Reflecting on that project, Moulder felt current methods of culling trees put forestry workers at risk. And the data backs him – 153 injuries in the sector last year put forestry workers on the bench for over a week, the majority of those from falls or strains.

So, he took up the challenge to investigate a new form of culling - Electrical ringbarking.

The process works “a bit like a heart defibrillator”: electrodes are clamped onto the tree and deliver a controlled shock, killing its stem and branches. The current ringbarking system is in its testing phase, with hopes to make it compact and portable for commercial use in the future.

“There was a group of three of us, and the main goal was to research the ring barker. I was testing trees before and after the zap.”

Moulder’s role in the project saw him monitor trees before and after the ringbarking, measuring things like transpiration. This helped him find the lowest level of electricity a tree could be shocked at, determining how safe and practical ringbarking could be if commercialised.

UC’s Forestry Science degree opens the doors to careers in forest management, research, business and technology. According to Moulder, students can look forward to a mix of in-class learning and practical study.

“The [degree] allowed me to get experience in all different aspects of the forestry industry, while also [giving me] the opportunity to work in the bush and not be stuck in an office or classroom all day.”

He feels his time at UC has prepared him well for future work in the conservation and biosecurity fields. After completing his Bachelor of Forestry Science, he aims to move into an environmental forester role.

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