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Expanding Our Roots

The Shifting Landscape
- Selkirk College Leads the Way in Adapting to the Future Forest
Deborah Greaves (for the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations) 

It’s a given that BC’s forests are changing, with dramatic effects on the forest industry and economy of the province. But what now for our trademark forests and this once mighty industry? What’s in the future for people who wish for a forestry career?

Kootenay-based Selkirk College’s forestry program has changed to reflect the current reality. It is now named the School of Renewable Resources. The Dean of Selkirk College, Angus Graeme, is a Registered Professional Forester. He believes BC must come to grips quickly with the need to adopt a radically different approach to the management of BC’s forests. But he also believes that skilled forestry workers are needed more than ever.

“There will always be a need for technical forestry,” Graeme said. “There’s a huge task in front of us now, with restructuring and strategic planning for the future of the forest sector. It won’t be easy without a strong body of professionals.”

The School of Renewable Resources is committed to providing the most flexible, nationally accredited environmental science programming in Canada. “Selkirk College can contribute a well prepared, technically proficient workforce who’ll have an eye to the future,” Graeme said.

In addition to its academic and technical programs, Selkirk College also has an active and licensed woodlot. The Selkirk College woodlot is a working forest and an outdoor classroom that takes students outside for 50 to 60 per cent of their educational time. They take ownership of the work they carry out there, Graeme said.  

The School of Renewable Resources has been established in response to the fact that in the very near future, forest management will be about much more than trees.  “Within our professional lifespans trees will have other values. Carbon capture and water will be as important as forestry. The political will of the people of BC will decide whether we want to go back.”

According to Graeme, changes in the forest must lead to changes in the way human beings manage it. We have to adapt the way we think of and manage BC’s natural resources. The new reality is here, and for the future’s sake, we can’t afford to ignore it.

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