Christopher Morton

I was able to contribute to a mangrove rehabilitation project by spending an afternoon planting mangrove trees.

Christopher is specialising in bushfire management in his Master of Forest Ecosystem Sciences.

Having studied environmental issues from a social science and humanities perspective in my undergraduate degree I was determined that I wanted to engage with environmental challenges through a more scientific lens. Forestry appealed to me as an area of study because it would allow me to pursue my new interest in the environmental sciences while at the same time continuing to engage with socio-economic drivers which influence environmental outcomes that I examined throughout my undergraduate degree.

The highlight of my course has been the Bushfire and Climate intensive subject at the Creswick campus. I gained an understanding of the principles of bushfire science and the application of fire spread prediction modelling for bushfire management in Victoria. This subject has played a critical role in determining my career direction going forward. After undertaking the subject I became inspired to undertake a masters research project related to bushfire management. I am now hoping to work for the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning in a bushfire management role.

The International Forestry Student Symposium (IFSS) is an annual event held each year by the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA), and I was awarded $1500 from the Julia Hale Trust to attend the IFSS in Manila and Los BaƱos in the Philippines during July 2015. The event program involved a lecture program about forestry context in the Philippines, field trips to areas of interest and the IFSA plenary sessions. The event provided me the opportunity to enhance the relationship between IFSA and the University of Melbourne, develop international networks among forestry students and young foresters, gain insights into forestry challenges and practices in many parts of the world and gain an in depth understanding of the forestry context in the Philippines. It has given me a range of new insights into the diversity of the field and the importance of forest science globally in addressing environmental, social and economic challenges.

I gained some insights into the history of deforestation in the Philippines and some of the challenges facing Filipino forest managers today. We were introduced to a broad range of reforestation projects which are being undertaken by governments, international environmental organisations, local communities and private industry in the Philippines. Another valuable education opportunity for me was being able to visit mangrove forests for the first time. We learnt about the delicate ecology of these ecosystems and the important role they play to coastal communities, by reducing the erosive impact of cyclone storm surges. I was able to contribute to a mangrove rehabilitation project by spending an afternoon planting mangrove trees.