The School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management was disestablished on 1 January, 2017.

Following a review, the school was merged with the School of Earth Sciences to create the new School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences website can be found at

Sarah studied Geographical Sciences at UQ. Her work protects Australia’s wildlife and its habitat.
Sarah studied Geographical Sciences at UQ. Her work protects Australia’s wildlife and its habitat.

Sarah Forsyth never thought she would be overseeing the cutting down of trees to save the environment, but her work for the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has her doing just that.

Sarah’s role is crucial to ensuring an ecologically sustainable harvest of timber for commercial requirements.  It is all about minimising the environmental impacts of logging by recognising and marking which trees not to cut down. 
Her work protects Australia’s wildlife and its habitat by identifying feeder trees, nest sites and ensuring a protective buffer is applied to each environmentally sensitive community or site. 
“This relies heavily on good solid mapping which is based on SPOT images, location coordinates and government spatial data and forestry logging records, blazed trees and survey maps” says Sarah.
Sarah’s role requires a number of practical skills and an understanding of vegetation communities, watercourse assessment and physical processes.  This is teamed with knowledge of technical equipment and mapping programs like ArcGIS, which was an area she was able to specialise in as part of her Geographical Sciences degree at UQ. 
Sarah says that “an understanding of policy, legislation and land title has also been a benefit, even though it was my least favourite area while studying.” 

The diversity of Sarah’s work means that she is constantly on the go. 

“Much of my job operates around what the weather is doing as we camp out for a week at a time to assess and manage timber sale sites, so being able to follow the weather maps, ride bikes and four-wheel driving are some important facets of the position.” 

Sarah enjoyed the flexibility of her Geography degree which allowed her to tailor her subject choices to her needs.  “There were only a few core subjects that I had to take and [then] I could focus in my preferred area of interest, resource mapping.”  She believes that the hands-on work undertaken during field trips was an important part of her studies and was responsible for giving her the edge when looking for work.  “The practical side certainly assisted with my interview stage as I had a vegetation assessment example to show comprehension of my now day to day processes.” 
Despite having just started her career, further education is a top priority for Sarah.  “Next year I am completing a certificate IV in frontline management. In two or three years I hope to begin my masters [in Geographic Information Systems] while working for DERM forest products.”

Last updated: Jan 13, 2014