Our forest is important to everyone. If you like camping, hiking, or hunting, you use the forest. If you like reading books, magazines, or newspapers, you rely on forest products. If you live in a house, your home is probably built with a wood frame. And the forest is important to more than just people. Animals, insects, and plants also rely on a healthy forest. Satisfying the many users of our forest requires extensive planning. The job of a Planning Forester is to take a detailed look at the forest and determine what actions must be taken to meet the needs of all the users of our forest. In this Forestry Job Profile, Sarah Martin tells us about her role as a Planning Forester.
Tell me about your job. Who do you work for?
I am a Planning Forester for Weyerhaeuser in Grande Prairie. My main role in the organization is to seek approvals for planned cutblocks intended for harvest operations that supply our pulpmill and sawmill.
What role do Planning Foresters play in the forest industry?
Planning Foresters design cutblocks and roads for harvest. We are responsible for First Nations consultation and trapper notifications. We manage cutblock layout crews as well as archaeologists responsible for historical resource impact assessments. Also, we seek road use and pipeline crossing agreements with oil and gas companies. Ultimately, our jobs consist of seeking government approvals for short term forest management plans.
What made you decide to take this career path?
I had an innate interest in nature at a young age. In high school, I participated in the Envirothon competition which sparked my interest in forestry and ultimately lead me to graduate in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Forestry Sciences from the Université de Moncton in New Brunswick.
What does a typical day/week look like for you?
I spend the majority of my time in the office preparing, consulting and reviewing forest management plans but I do get the opportunity to go outside for field verifications several times a month.
What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy the group of people I get the opportunity to work with on a daily basis. I laugh everyday! I also take pleasure in the experience I have gained through engaging with different stakeholders and attaining a suitable outcome for all parties.
What is the coolest thing you’ve been able to do?
The coolest courses I’ve had the opportunity to attend were Cultural Camps with First Nations and a Trapper course. Both these courses have helped me to better understand the culture, the interests and requirements of different groups.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
One of my biggest challenges, once I had completed my degree at a French university, was adapting my knowledge of forestry to the English language. That transition certainly allowed for many laughs whilst “lost in translation”! Another challenge was adjusting from one province’s forest management practices to another. Originally I saw this as an obstacle but now I see this as an asset in the sense that it helped me to grow and see things from a new perspective.
Can you give an example of a time when your work significantly impacted your organization?
My work in the organization helps to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of wood for continuing harvest operations. I feel accomplished in this role as part of a team that contributes to the whole cycle of sustainable resource management and production.
What qualities make up an ideal candidate for a position like yours?
Qualities required for this position would include being detail-orientated, comfortable adapting and interacting with different audiences day to day as well as skills working with GIS and large data sets. Candidates that possess the ability to gain focus on the bigger picture and plan for the future integrating all aspects of the industry could be very successful in this role.
What are some of your favourite aspects of the forest industry?
The fact that this industry is sustainable and renewable are aspects that I most appreciate.
What do you like about living in a forest community?
Living in a forest community provides the opportunity for easy access to nature. The Grande Prairie area is one that accommodates a recreational culture which I enjoy during my free time.
Click here to learn more about the Planning Forestry profession. Also, have a look at these post-secondary forestry programs in Alberta:
University of Alberta: Forest Science & Management
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT): Forest Technology