Kat Gunion did what many university students do to pay for their university education - she planted trees! In 2008 she had finished a Masters in Computer Science and was about to start her PhD when an old planting buddy called up and asked her if she wanted to come and plant trees in Revelstoke BC.
An avid snowboarder and ready for a break from university, Kat took her up on the offer. She ended up staying Revelstoke for the next four years doing an ever increasing variety of work for a small forestry consultant. Kat came to realize that she didn’t really miss computer science, she loved working in the outdoors, and she loved living in a small town. She also started to see that her career choices would become limited without formal training in forest management.
Fortunately, the University of British Columbia launched its new course-based Master of Sustainable Forest Management (MSFM) Program in August of this year. The MSFM is a one-year course-based program that provides students with Bachelor’s degrees in ecology, physical geography, environmental sciences or other science disciplines, opportunities for advanced scholarship and professional growth in natural resource management principles and practice. Kat is one of a diverse group of 14 students in this year’s class. Her classmates have backgrounds in forestry, landscape architecture, engineering and biology.
Contemporary forest land management encompasses a wider range of activities than in the past, including ecosystem restoration, conservation, carbon management, community forestry, the assessment of cumulative impacts and integration of land-based activities such as timber harvesting, mining, grazing, recreation and electricity generation and transmission.
According to program director Dr. Steve Mitchell, the primary motivation for launching the program was the need for people who have a solid foundation in a forestry-related academic discipline combined with the competencies needed by forestry professionals and who can apply these to these new land management challenges.
Sustainable forest management, means balancing the conservation and protection roles of forests with their ability to produce the goods and services that society needs. There are a variety of opportunities out there because there are a variety of potential employers out there.
For more information about the Master of Sustainable Forest Management Program (including profiles of participants), you can contact the program coordinator, Deb DeLong, RPF MSc at 604.822.0613 or visit the UBC's Faculty of Forestry website.
The application deadline for the 2013/14 academic year is February 28th, 2013.