Forest honour

A retiring OneForty One employee has been gifted a special surprise this month after 43

years of service – a forestry road named in his family’s honour. Higgins Lane, north of Nangwarry, has been named after the Higgins family following a collective 55 years of work in the Green Triangle forestry industry by 68-year-old Terry Higgins, pictured, and his late father John.

Mr Higgins described the naming of the road in the plantations where his family had lived and worked for decades as “a real honour”. “My family are quite taken by it, after all our history here and we’re looking forward to getting out there and getting a photo with the sign,” he said.

The location of the plantation track holds special significance to the Higgins family as it is situated near the forest reserve Muddy Flats, where the family lived for several years after emigrating from London in the mid-1960s. Following in the footsteps of his father John, who worked for the department in the forests around Penola and Nangwarry, Mr Higgins also began working in his school holidays, clearing firebreaks and hand weeding in the nursery.

During his 43-year career, Mr Higgins performed nearly every role imaginable, working his way up from maintenance to machinery operator to geographic information services work and then supervisory roles. “From hanging around so long, you get to know it all, from handplanting to machinery to hand marking. “You name it, I have done it,” he said.

In 2016, he was made the Area Foresters and District Manager for the Penola forests – the pinnacle of his career and what he referred to as his “spiritual home”. Mr Higgins found his forte in silviculture, saying he found creativity and satisfaction in seeing the growth and development of the plantations.

“It’s about creating a forest that can be the best it can possibly be in 32-year’s time,” he said. “To see a tree in the ground as a seedling and then watch it grow to its full potential is very satisfying.”

During the last 12 months in OneFortyOne’s Transition to Retirement program, Mr Higgins helped develop a fire training video series for the company. Utilising his decades of experience fighting and managing forest fires, he interviewed 100-plus workers about their fire experience, wrote scripts and helped direct the series of short films, which will be used to help prepare employees for busy fire seasons.

OneFortyOne Fire Manager Justin Cook said Terry put his heart into his work and had earned respect from his many colleagues over the years. “His dedication and commitment shows through in everything he does,” he said. “Terry has always made a conscious effort to pass on his knowledge to the next generation and to mentor and develop people.”

Mr Higgins encouraged anyone considering a career in forestry to take the opportunity, saying the sky was the limit. “Honestly, it’s the best job in the world,” he said. “You can go to university and get a forestry degree but there’s also jobs in harvesting, transport and mechanics. There’s so much you can do. “I cannot believe how lucky I have been.”

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