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SARA Member Profile: Cristian Chaplain



What is your current Role and Location?

I am a Ranger, working for ForestrySA, based out of Mount Crawford Forest in the Adelaide Hills area. My primary role is caring for Native Forest Reserves (conservation reserves), plantations, and Fox Creek Bike Park within Mount Crawford Forest. I work with volunteers, community groups and visitors who use the forests for camping, hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, fossicking, trail running, orienteering… you name it!


How did you first become involved in protected area management and what attracted you to this career?

I first became involved in protected area management after I finished university. I was lucky enough to secure a casual summer job at Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island. It was here that I began to learn about the protection and management of vulnerable ecosystems and animal species. This then led me to take on a role as a Project Firefighter which furthered my experience in land management practices. I was then lucky enough to snag a role a few back fill positions as a Ranger with DEW before I landed a role with ForestrySA.

What attracted me to this career pathway was the idea of being able to contribute to the conservation and preservation of the environment. I grew up exploring coastal environments of all types and I want to make sure that future generations get to have the opportunity to enjoy them as much as I do.


What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is getting to head out into the forest and showing people just how amazing it is. Day to day I can take for granted just how special it is that I get to call the forest my office, so any day that I can get someone to see the native forests as a place of magic hidden in plain sight is a good day. Watching other people get excited about things like orchids or birds makes me appreciate just how good the job can be.


If you could change one thing about the job what would it be and why?

The red tape and administrative processes that hamstring us from doing our job effectively.


Tell us about a funny or embarrassing thing to happen on the job:

Working out in the field, you don’t have to worry about too many carports. So, the only time I’ve had to do some work on private land for a prescribed burn, I drove under the carport forgetting the pole saw I strapped to the Ute was sticking up!  One loud BANG and a fair bit of confusion later, I found the poor pole saw was snapped in three places. It was an awkward phone call trying to explain how I managed to destroy something so comprehensively. Thankfully the carport was left unscathed!


What advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in the environmental field?

Take every opportunity that gets thrown your way and build up your skills and experiences. Having a big bag of tricks can be a massive help when you’re out in the field. You often won’t have exactly what you need, especially if something comes from left field. So having a broad skill set can be a massive advantage! 


Favourite word: 

Genug. It is German for “enough”. It’s my favourite word for no other reason than its fun to say.


Favourite quote:

“Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. We’re all going to die. Come watch TV.”


Favourite animal:

Bob-tail squids. Google them, they’re tiny!


Favourite plant:

Anything from the Pterostylis genus. Pterostylis pedunculata (Maroonhood) is a particular favourite!


Favourite SA Park/protected area:

Cape Gantheaume Wilderness Protection Area. Its home to some amazing animals and has excellent surf as well!


Tell us about a place in SA that’s special/underrated/not well known:

I think the West Coast of SA is incredible. Steep cliffs, white sandy beaches, rock pools, surfing, fishing, camping, it has it all!

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