As part of our celebration of forests in the run up to FSC Friday, we are starting a new series – Women in Forestry. What better place to start than with the woman tasked with re-designing the FSC for the future. Meet Natalie Reynolds, Transformation & Development Director for FSC International.
As Transformation & Development Director for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) International, Natalie Reynolds is taking on one of the most exciting challenges in her career – how to best position FSC to tackle the tough issues facing responsible forestry globally.
When Natalie Reynolds joined the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) more than four years ago as Chief Executive Officer for Australia and New Zealand, it was through a chance business connection rather than a long career in responsible forest management.
Natalie’s the first to admit she’s no tree expert. Her passion and skills lie in big picture business modelling and change strategy – seeing the forest for the trees, if you pardon the pun – to facilitate better decision-making and outcomes. It’s this and her law background that stands her in good stead as she now drives organisational change globally.
In her role as Transformation & Development Director for FSC International, she’s excited to be looking at how the organisation is operating across the world, and effective ways the network can work. With FSC having a formal presence in 40 countries and operating in 80, it’s fair to say that this will be no small task. ‘The number of views, contexts and cultures to explore and manage are extraordinary’, she says.
It’s this diversity that Natalie says has made work at FSC so fascinating. In particular, managing the range of environmental, social and economic forces in forestry management internally. As Natalie explains: ‘At any one time you could be managing a board with traditional foes sitting around the same table – coming together to agree on how forests should be managed from all perspectives.’
While she admits it’s been a tough ride at times, there have been successes. As CEO of the Australian and New Zealand arm, she’s proud of securing grants that are allowing Australian stakeholders to develop their own national FSC forest management standard. The second draft of the standard was recently released for consultation.
As part of her current role, Natalie is developing a multi-stakeholder accepted global strategic plan to focus FSC’s work for the next 20 years. She’s well aware of the challenges in getting agreement for a common way forward to address the major issues in responsible forestry, like: ‘how to arrest the massive level of degradation and destruction of forests, especially in unique parts of the world such as Asia.’
What it will take to get there is at the core of FSC’s discussions currently. ‘It means dealing with big questions, like how FSC can compete and make a difference in places where it’s more profitable to plant palm oil than it is to manage a rainforest for its ecological values’, says Reynolds. Certification systems like FSC have a critical part to play, but she says there also needs to be a change in the economic model of forestry. ‘It will take a paradigm shift in the way we value our forests, and in our consumer demand for sustainably sourced wood products.’
Ultimately for Natalie, on both a professional and personal level, it’s about protecting the world’s precious natural places for future generations.
Friday 25 September is FSC Friday, a global celebration of responsible forestry. Find out how your company can get engaged.