THUNDER BAY, ON - January 21, 2010 - Recently, I had the distinct pleasure to participate in Lakehead University Forestry Association’s (LUFA) 42nd Annual Forestry Symposium.
I was invited to present my thoughts on LUFA’s Symposium’s topic which is dear to my heart, and thankfully an upcoming opportunity, that being “A new Approach-Tenure and Reform in Ontario’s Forests”.
Forest tenure change; whereby the province will make changes based on a massive input seeking exercise will define how a public resource, the trees on our publically owned forests will be accessed, purchased, and managed is happening now! It was typical of LUFA to choose this single most important issue in recent memory to discuss with their association. LUFA has a strong background of seeking discussion and education on the issues of the day. One only needs to look over the topics covered in the past years to confirm that LUFA is on the cutting-edge of Forestry.
My participation permitted me to interact with a number of up and coming Foresters and I must say that I am truly impressed. As a graduate of Lakehead’s Forestry program, I could see the results of what Lakehead is capable of producing first –hand. These students are great ambassadors for not only their Forestry Association but for Lakehead University and their chosen profession. You might notice my bias, however in reality Lakehead University is a world –renowned institution in many faculties, and Forestry in particular.
I am truly impressed with the business-like attitude of these students. The organizing committee consisting of; Brent Forbes, Natalie Hughes, Joey James, Shawn Mandula, Jocelin Nellie, Josh Sigurdson, and Lauren Thompson were VERY organized, well spoken, and are already showing the attributes of their upcoming profession and designation. They showed a true appreciation of everyone that participated and their warm welcome was genuine.
These students showed the signs of what I believe are necessary requirements for being a successful Forester in today’s world; global forestry knowledge, listening skills and flexibility. I had the opportunity to share lunch together with a number of the students and I couldn’t help think about how fortunate we are that this future generation of Foresters will put us on the right path as we enter this new world of change in the field of Forestry. As one of the presenters; Tom Clark of CMC Ecological Consulting pointed out to the audience, it was a loud and clear statement at the recent Copenhagen conference on climate change that the field of Forestry will continue to play an increasingly important role for the future health of the world.
Meanwhile back at the Symposium, the speakers were all in favour of the potential changes that lie ahead with how we manage our crown forests and what roles are necessary from the profession. Interestingly, all four speakers spoke on the role that the community can and should play in the future of our forests. I am also happy to report that my suggestion that we finally consider the true community, which includes all the residents of a community and surrounding neighbours which is our First Nation’s, was unanimously supported.
As LU’s Dr. Peggy Smith pointed-out, we still have some work to do in ensuring that First Nations are an integral part of any movement forward, which we are reminded that these forests are on their traditional lands. This thinking aligns exactly with what NAN Grand Chief Beardy continues to strongly demand-that First Nations be involved in each and every step of a process to plan, access, utilize, manufacture and manage the forests in Ontario.
There was alignment on a number of issues related on forest tenure change and everyone was in agreement that the upcoming changes can create new opportunities if implemented wisely. We have started to notice early indications of these changes with new Community Partnerships recently created in the region and now we need to tie these together with potential new Community Forests.
The goal of the Symposium was “to provide a forum for discussion and a catalyst for change within the tenure system”, and this goal was achieved. The resulting questions from the audience which included a number of students demonstrated to me that we are making in-roads to a new Forestry, by embracing change and that this next crop of Foresters will be the best that this province has ever produced, and lead us into this new future.