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  • CarbonCrop Team

Meet Rowan Sprague, CarbonCrop’s Carbon Forestry Specialist

In this new series we want to introduce you to our amazing team here at CarbonCrop. The people who make it possible for us to make a difference, and support us to achieve our mission. To kick things off we want to introduce you to Rowan.

Rowan joined the team in mid-2022 and has hit the ground running, becoming a key member of the team, leading and supporting on countless projects, and being a reliable source of information on all things carbon credits. Originally from the United States, Rowan moved to New Zealand to study, completing her PhD in ecology at Lincoln University. With expertise in the wilding pines space, Rowan is using her impressive knowledge to work helping CarbonCrop make a difference, and help landholders restore forest, store carbon, and get paid.

What do you do at CarbonCrop?

I’m a carbon forest advisor at CarbonCrop - so my role is to provide advice on the eligibility of forests for carbon credits. I work closely with the account management team on registering forests and also with the tech team on improving future versions of our carbon stock models as well as on improving how we work and how tech can solve our challenges in registering native forests. All of this helps get more forests recognised and provides evidence of their eligibility.

How did you get here?

I’ve always been interested in the environment and nature - how trees grow, how clouds form, and how to protect our environment. I originally came to NZ to research honeybees as a Fulbright Scholar. This research led me to continue my studies and do a PhD at Lincoln University on wilding pines. In my PhD, I used aerial and satellite imagery to look at population growth of wilding pines and their spatial patterns over time. When I was finishing up my PhD, I knew that I wanted to get out of academia and do something more applied and work with people. I became the coordinator of the Wilding Pine Network and also the knowledge broker for a large multi-million dollar research programme. My role was all about connecting people and agencies involved in wilding pine management and research. I advised MPI and the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme and also engaged with landowners and community groups across the country. After about three and a half years in that role, I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted to be able to use more of my technical skills but still work with people and make a positive difference to NZ’s biodiversity. This led me to CarbonCrop.

Why do you love it?

I love being part of something so positive, it’s a great feeling to be able to support landowners look after and protect their forests. I also love the variety of my role - I get to work across the ETS and voluntary carbon market, help CarbonCrop stay on top of policy changes, advise on improvements to our tech processes, and co-host ‘Ask me Anything’ webinars - just to name a few things. Finally, I love being a part of and working with the team - the people who work for CarbonCrop are such awesome and fun people.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I am part of the NZ Biosecurity Institute, I’m the chair of the Canterbury/West Coast branch and the Vice president of the institute. It’s a professional networking group of practitioners and people involved in biosecurity in New Zealand. It spans from researchers to the people who are on the ground, like contractors doing pest control and weed management. It’s related to what we do at CarbonCrop because one of the things that is very important in carbon forestry, and forestry in general, is forest management and pest and weed control are a big part of that. Biosecurity is definitely related to what we do, and also it’s just a really great group of people.

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