Just as people need forests, forests need people — the University of Toronto spearheads a new era in forestry training.
Forestry is all about people. As global society develops, so do the values that shape the stewardship of forests in Canada and abroad. With our changing climate, the global importance of managing Canada’s forests sustainably has never been greater. Forests are biodiversity reservoirs that sustain us in infinite ways. They clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, capture the carbon we use to build homes and mitigate the ever-growing consequences of climate change. The best carbon capture and storage technology to date is embodied in our world’s trees and forests.
With our changing climate, the global importance of managing Canada’s forests sustainably has never been greater.
Canada has almost 10 per cent of the world’s forests, the majority in the boreal zone where significant industrial forestry takes place. Moreover, we’re the stewards of approximately 30 per cent of the world’s boreal forests. About 90 per cent of Canada’s forests are publicly owned and managed on behalf of all Canadians, necessitating co-operation among all levels of government, civil society, environmentalists, the forest industry, and the foresters who work in these sectors. Next-gen foresters stand tall in the ranks of tomorrow’s climate leaders.
The University of Toronto (U of T) has trained Canadian foresters since the inception of the Faculty of Forestry in 1907. Nowadays, the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at U of T continues this tradition, proudly boasting the Master of Forest Conservation (MFC) program, one of only two professionally accredited master’s programs in forestry in the country, and hosting the global Institute of Forestry and Conservation. By law, professional foresters (RPFs) are forest management planners responsible for ensuring the continued sustainability of Canada’s vast, publicly owned Crown forests. With working experience, MFC grads are qualified to become RPFs and do their part on the front lines to conserve and protect Canadian forests.
The face of contemporary forestry in Canada is changing. While international students have always been an important part of our programs, today their diversity in background, age, and experience continues to grow, and we’re extremely proud that women consistently represent almost two-thirds of our students.
But contemporary forestry goes well beyond stewardship of Canada’s hinterland forests. Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of the value of trees and green space in our cities. Urban forestry is now a well-established field, with growing public recognition of the ecosystem services and health benefits urban forests provide. Taught out of Canada’s largest metropolis, the Daniels Faculty’s forestry programs are uniquely positioned to train next-gen urban foresters. Forestry’s new home in the Faculty strategically aligns forestry students with researchers in the fields of landscape architecture, urban design, and visual studies at the school, recognizing just how interdisciplinary modern forestry has become. Add to that mix sustainable architecture — including innovations such as mass timber, the focus of the Mass Timber Institute at the Daniels Faculty — and a forestry education doesn’t get more well-rounded and responsive to the challenges of the future.
In the face of climate change, next-gen foresters will be leading the charge in terms of protecting carbon stores, climate change mitigation, and other adaptive solutions. Forests, in other words, need people. And we of course need forests. Join us!
Byline: Dr. Benjamin Kuttner, R.P.F., Assistant Professor, Institute of Forestry and Conservation, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto