An interview with… Brendan Gould

(Photo) At Petone Beach with the family.

An interview with… Brendan Gould

This month we talk to Brendan Gould, the Forest Owners Association’s new Biosecurity Manager, about some of the biggest challenges for forestry and why they’re investing heavily in biosecurity research and development. 

How did you get involved in biosecurity?
As a marine scientist, I got my first introduction to the importance of biosecurity when working on fish health in the aquaculture sector. In 2004 I progressed into government initially working on operationalising marine biosecurity within New Zealand’s biosecurity system, with a key focus on the national surveillance programme and also working with others to improve marine biosecurity risk management across the system.

What do you think are the biggest biosecurity challenges for forestry at the moment?
A few months ago, I probably would have answered this a little differently, but the Covid 19 pandemic has forced huge changes in our behaviours.  The risk from international visitors is now largely non-existent and is likely to remain so for some time.  Trade has continued but trade patterns are very likely to change significantly and as a direct result so will the risks we are exposed to.  The gradual spread of pests and pathogens internationally means that things will be coming at us from more angles than in the past.  Finally, climate change will have impacts both offshore and here in New Zealand which will potentially expose us to new and emerging risks and issues.

What activities do you see making a difference?
The forest industry has been very proactive in its approach to biosecurity risk management, which was one of the reasons I was interested in working in this sector.  It is the only primary industry sector that I am aware of that has, and continues to run, its own national surveillance programme, it has also invested heavily in biosecurity related research and development.  However, there are always areas for improvement.  Prevention is really where the focus needs to be, and to do this we need to not only raise awareness of biosecurity risks but need to then turn this into preventative action throughout the entire supply chain.

When not working, how do you like to spend your time?
Spending time with my family is always a key focus, however I enjoy getting in, and on the water whenever I can.  I enjoy surfing, snorkelling kayaking fishing and have recently been leaning how to sail.

How do you think the TMBC network can be most effective?
TMBC is a great example of a local initiative that is having huge biosecurity impacts.  Continuing to champion biosecurity and highlighting the benefits and risks locally means that people can more easily relate to what it means for them and how they are making a difference within their own surroundings.