Gympie Forester gets well earned accolades
FOR A scientist, recognition by your peers is one of the highest acknowledgements of a job well done that exists.
Recently-retired Gympie forester Ernie Rider has been inducted as a Fellow of the Institute of Foresters of Australia.
The ceremony was conducted on World Forstry Day at the Sherwood Arboretum, situated on the river in Brisbane.
Mr Rider started his 50-year career by taking an honours degree in forestry from Queensland University and then at the Australian National University in the years 1961-66
Different jobs and transfers around the state saw him gain experience in rainforests, cypress and hardwoods in all areas, as well as wallum and coastal vegetation.
His first few decades with Queensland Forestry were as a tree breeder, which also involved managing the trial plantings from that work.
Since returning to his Gympie base three and a half decades ago, Mr Rider has been the go-to person for many people with botanical identification questions.
In that largely self-taught role he has consulted for many botanical publications including versions of the iconic 'red book' rainforest guide that present the often difficult problem of local rainforest identification in a simplified format.
He has been instrumental in having forestry accepted far beyond the mere standing timber, as an essential to sound environmental management practices.
For the lay person, Mr Rider's willingness to share his vast knowledge has been valuable for many people wishing to learn more about our local native plants.
Mr Rider was involved with Mary Valley Sunshine Coast Farm Forestry which gradually morphed into Private Forest Services, and is a board member of that group.
He is the current chairperson of Gympie Landcare, a delegate to the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee, and regional weeds co-ordinator for the herbarium.
The fellowship citation mentioned that Mr Rider's approach to the correct safety wear in the workplace could be regarded as a bit lacking, with him regularly appearing on field excursions in bare feet or at best, sandals.
One of his earliest, among many research papers published, involved driving around Canberra roads throwing 2000 lighted cigarettes out of the car window trying to start a fire.
No fire was started, proving that this oft-quoted form of starting a fire is very difficult.