In 1916 Mary Sutherland became the first woman forestry graduate in the world, graduating from the University College of North Wales (now Bangor University). It was daring to take up a male-only career in a time when women's contributions were generally disregarded, and her job prospects were affected by two world wars and economic depressions in England and New Zealand. She emigrated to New Zealand in 1923 where the State Forest Service employed her until forestry retrenched in the 1930s.
The skills she developed as a forester enabled her to move into botany at the Dominion Museum and farm forestry with the Department of Agriculture. She also championed women's right to higher education and was active in the Federation of University Women.
A Path Through the Trees tells the professional and personal story of this remarkable woman. Edwards has drawn on reports, photographs and journals, as well as through interviews, to document this determined woman in an early era of forestry.
Vivien Edwards has worked as a freelance researcher and writer for over 20 years. She contributed regularly to the New Zealand Forest Industries magazine (1980s–90s), hence her interest in how Mary Sutherland came to be working in New Zealand forestry in the 1920s. A Path Through the Trees is Vivien’s third book. Her other titles include Winkelmann: Images of Early New Zealand (Benton Ross, 1987), and Battling the Big B: Hepatitis B in New Zealand (Dunmore Publishing Ltd, 2007)