Carlos Molina arrived from Spain to be among the first Master’s of Sustainable Forest Management graduates
A birder, mountaineer and backcountry skier, Spanish-born Carlos Molina is a natural for the West Coast. But it wasn’t the call of the wild that brought him to B.C.—it was Europe’s economic crisis.
In 2008, at the height of the financial meltdown, Molina began looking for a change. He had a degree in forest engineering from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid and was trying to get a job in the industry.
It was a bad time for any young graduate and unfortunately for Molina, the situation didn’t get any better. Unlike Canada, Spain’s economic crisis deepened.
“The government lowered salaries, increased taxes and cut services. Unemployment skyrocketed,” he says.
“Being outdoors and in nature has been the main drive that took me into forestry in the first place.”
Most forestry in Spain is government operated. Molina says people were being laid off left and right, and whenever there was a job posting, he was competing with experienced foresters.
“It was just impossible to find a job. So after four years without any success, I said ‘I’m out of here.’”
Because of his training as a forest professional, Molina was familiar with B.C.’s industry. He also had a friend who had come to UBC’s Faculty of Forestry for a PhD. So when he heard about a new one-year master’s in Sustainable Forest Management, he applied to be part of the inaugural class.
“When I got accepted, I didn’t even think twice,” says the graduate, who packed up and moved to another continent even though it was hard to leave his country, relatives and the familiarity of home to try something new.
On his first day in Vancouver exploring Jericho Beach, Molina saw a bald eagle fly by. For a hobbyist bird watcher from Spain, he was mesmerized watching the eagle dive down and catch its dinner.
“Being outdoors and in nature has been the main drive that took me into forestry in the first place,” he says.
Molina says that finding the right balance between protecting nature and managing forest resources has always been his professional aspiration and is what he appreciated about the master’s program. He’s also come out of the program with the one thing he wanted more than anything else— a job in forestry.
This May, Molina will move to Prince George to begin a career as a forester in training. His girlfriend Aitana Ortiz de Zarate is moving from Spain to join him.
For more information about the program: cbm.forestry.ubc.ca/master-of-sustainable-forest-management-msfm-degree