Howard Wright

Howard Wright
June 1, 2020 Active


When Howard Wright, contract co-ordinator for City of Sydney Council at Active, has friends and family visiting Sydney, he likes to play tour-guide. He shows them the harbour and the Opera House of course, the restaurants and the bars; but the place he likes to take them most is Victoria and Hyde Park. This is because they are two of our most beautiful parks, planted with many of the city’s most impressive trees, and those trees are within his care.

“Sydney is a major tourism destination,” he says over the phone. “It is fantastic to know you played a part in the presentation of it.”

Howard is from England and like many Brits, 12 years ago, he arrived in Sydney as a backpacker. He quickly started working for a backpacker tourism company and helped build it into an Australia wide operation. Seven years later, the business sold to Greyhound Australia and he moved to Active.

“What was helpful for me was the business growth,” he says of working in tourism. “It was the organisational skills: managing the projects, shop fits, recruitment, research and development. To bring that into this job has helped me with planning, structure and scheduling.”

When Howard started on the City of Sydney contract, Active tended about 16,000 street trees stretching from Miller’s Point to Surry Hills. Since then however, the contract has grown to include 6000 park trees, 250 council property trees and is focussed on increasing the green canopy of the city.

“I’ve got a bit more responsibility,” he says humbly.


“I speak to some of my friends and they say, ‘same job, different day,’ but it’s not like that here. There’s always something new, something exciting. There’s always change in a good way.”

To manage the planting of new species, a streetscape masterplan has been introduced. Howard liaises with the City of Sydney tree team and planting inspectors, Jason and Neil; he manages a team of subcontractors known as ‘the planting crew’ and he supervises the work. There is significant palm planting happening on Hickson Road, and he’ll be overseeing that project.

What he doesn’t say is this is on top of co-ordinating 20 Active arborists to tend Sydney’s trees as well.

“I speak to some of my friends and they say, ‘same job, different day,’ but it’s not like that here,” he says of working at Active.

“There’s always something new, something exciting. There’s always change in a good way.”

Howard lives on the central coast with his partner whom he met backpacking in Indonesia before they arrived in Australia. They share a love of travel – Howard has visited 42 countries and counting – and they foster dogs on a regular basis through Tiki Animal Rescue. They have taken in eight dogs so far and they look after them while the charity finds a permanent home which could be 24 hours or six months like Howard’s favourite dog.

Her name was Mercy. When she arrived she was withdrawn and timid. He would arrive home and she’d bolt to the back of the garden and hide in the bamboo. He’d move his feet, and she’d jump. By the end of her stay however, she was able to run alongside him without a leash and the satisfaction he gleaned from watching her change was immense.

“In a selfish way, it makes us feel good,” he says.

Clearly, Howard finds the reward for his efforts are the results. In both work and pleasure.