New foresters blend sciences
Students prepared for problems with no simple solutions
The old saw about how some people can't see the forest for
the trees could never apply to UBC Forestry students.
On the contrary, if the opinions of fourth-year students Megan
Saprunoff and Lesley Fettes reflect those of the majority, their
vision of the complex issues surrounding the forest industry appears
to be multi-directional and far-sighted.
"My program provides a background for dealing with problems that
do not have simple solutions," says Saprunoff, who is majoring in
Natural Resources Conservation.
"It involves the integration of many values for a landscape including
biodiversity, visual quality objectives, non-timber forest products
as well as timber production to produce a working solution that
will accommodate all values."
Saprunoff and Fettes represent a new generation of foresters --
students who often combine equal measures of social and natural
science in preparation for careers that range from helping developing
countries to create a sustainable forest industry to international
marketing of wood products.
Both Fettes and Saprunoff see the issue of forest development
on crown land as one of the most pressing. "Because the land is
public land, shifting public values have a large impact on the way
in which forestry is practiced," says Fettes, who is majoring in
Forest Resources Management and serves as the Forestry Undergraduate
"At the moment forestry is transforming from what was an industry
based on resource extraction to one that must be socially, ecologically
and economically sustainable."
Technology adds yet another element to an increasingly interdisciplinary
Graduate student Duncan Cavens exhibits the eclectic combination
of skills and interests of an increasing number of students.
A master's candidate in a program that combines Computer Science,
Forestry and Landscape Architecture, he designed and wrote the software
used to model future images of forested landscapes in the Forest
Resources Management's Landscape Immersion Lab.
Regardless of the diversity of their programs and aspirations,
the common refrain of many students is great respect for their professors.
"Learning about current forestry issues from professors who are
involved in the debate and helping government and industry move
towards a solution -- that's when I begin to see what my niche might
be," says Fettes.
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