Faces of Forestry: Frances Swan

Faces of Forestry is an initiative of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to highlight people doing great work to enhance our forests throughout British Columbia. This month, we feature Frances Swan, RPF, Operations Forester for Nakusp and Area Community Forest.

Frances has deep roots in the Kootenay region and has called Nakusp her home since 1997. Her appreciation for forestry and love for the community have always been fundamental parts of her life.

“Looking back, I can appreciate that my dad was a forester and inherently understood the concept of sustainable management long before it became practice, so it was easy to follow in his footsteps,” said Frances.

Frances then completed a Diploma of Forest Technology from Selkirk College, a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Northern British Columbia and a Graduate Certificate in Project Management from Royal Roads University.

Frances is the Operations Manager of Nakusp and Area Community Forest (NACFOR). In her role, she manages a broad range of strategic and operational projects and supports PR and communications strategies.

Since 2008, NACFOR has operated successfully as a BC corporation owned by the Village of Nakusp and is part of the BC Community Forest Association (BCCFA). Its operations are contracted, primarily with local contractors, and have delivered numerous benefits to the local community.

As an RFP with more than 20 years of project management experience in the natural resource sector, Frances has worked with FESBC as the recipient lead on several projects in Nakusp. Frances and the team at NACFOR have been able to deliver projects focused on wildfire risk reduction treatments and fibre utilization.

“Working with FESBC has been a very positive experience. Through direct and leveraged funding, FESBC has supported NACFOR to take a collaborative approach to reduce the threat of wildfires, while building local capacity to carry out fuel treatments,” said Frances.

During her career in forestry, Frances has volunteered with many local and regional organizations, from ski coaching to economic development. As the community forest manager, she combines resource stewardship with local land-use decision-making that reflects community priorities and values. Frances currently sits on the BCCFA Board of Directors.

“Forest management is a complex process, with many moving parts. It requires a thoughtful, balanced approach to land and resource use, as decisions made today will have enduring outcomes,” said Frances.

Faces of Forestry: Francis Johnson

Faces of Forestry is a newer initiative of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), to highlight people doing great work to enhance our forests throughout British Columbia. This month, we feature Francis Johnson, RPF, Alkali Resource Management Ltd. (ARM), Forest Manager. 

Francis was first drawn to joining the forestry industry after witnessing how community and forestry were dependent on one another; and how critical this relationship is to enhance a community’s living conditions and natural resources.

“As I learned more about Forestry, I saw that Esk’et had a community forest and their management decisions were based on community values. I knew that there was an opportunity that I could work in my community one day.”

Johnson then completed his Bachelor of Natural Resource Management in Kamloops at Thompson Rivers University.

“I encourage people to consider careers in forestry. We have a diverse industry with several areas of expertise, so there is work that suits different personality types and skill sets,” said Johnson.

Francis is the Forest Manager at ARM, a forestry company centred on providing numerous forest management services, such as timber development, road construction, wildland fire suppression, and more.

Since 2011, ARM has worked closely with BC Wildfire Services, deploying fire suppression crews across the Cariboo region.

For the last couple of years, Francis has worked with FESBC on behalf of ARM in Alkali Lake. The projects focused on forest carbon efforts through forest harvesting activities undertaken by the First Nation, wildfire risk reduction treatments adjacent to communities, and habitat improvement in the Esk’etemc community forest and First Nation Woodland License.

As a Registered Professional Forester, Francis believes that community voices and values must be factored in, when managing the land.

“It’s rewarding to see how the Community Forest and First Nation Woodland licenses help individuals in the community with economic benefits, and with new infrastructure developments. People are inspired to choose careers in forestry that require higher education and training,” said Johnson.

Faces of Forestry: John Davies

Faces of Forestry is a new initiative of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to highlight people doing great work to enhance our forests throughout British Columbia. This month, we feature John Davies, RPF, Frontline Operations Group, Principal.

Registered Professional Forester (RPF) John Davies’ forestry career germinated during his time working in a seedling nursery, which was owned by his future sponsoring forester. From there, he went timber cruising on the coast over 35 years ago. Since then, he’s worked in every corner of the province timber cruising, tree planting, fighting forest fires and practicing wildfire management.

Davies, who completed a BSc in Resource Management at the University of British Columbia, has covered a significant geographic area since 1988.

“I’ve worked everywhere from the Arctic to Montana—firefighting and forestry takes you everywhere.”

Davies was drawn to forestry through a combination of positive experiences working with other RPFs early in his career and the desire to work outside.

After ten seasons fighting wildfires, Davies established his own wildfire management consultancy in 2004, one of the first RPFs to start consulting in wildfire management after the Filmon report in 2003. Since then, he has contributed to millions of dollars in community protection projects. His career highlights are when two of his fuel management projects successfully protected homes during the 2020 and 2021 wildfire seasons in the Okanagan.  

“The landscape-level fuel breaks we planned, developed, designed, and implemented around Heritage Hills, Penticton, and Westshore Estates, North Okanagan, successfully protected those communities from the Thomas Creek fire in 2020 and White Rock Lake fire in 2021 respectively. These fuel breaks successfully reduced wildfire behaviour near the homes and allowed structural fire fighters to safely deploy suppression tactics before the approaching wildfires.

Regarding his career in wildfire management focused forestry, Davies said, “having the opportunity to practice and promote value-based management and make sound and integral decisions while protecting communities is a rewarding experience.”

“Being a forester allows you to work and live almost anywhere in BC and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else for a career.”

Faces of Forestry: Erin Robinson

Faces of Forestry is a new initiative of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to highlight people doing great work to enhance our forests throughout British Columbia. This month, we feature Erin Robinson, Forestry Initiatives Manager at The City of Quesnel.

“I remember learning in school that we would eventually face a time of ecological change so drastic that we would no longer be able to ignore it – and then in 2017, it was on our doorstep. During the 2017 wildfires, I remember thinking, ‘Should I move my family away from here?’ and then I realized, there is no longer anywhere we can move to that isn’t facing an ecological crisis. 

The Forestry Innovation Centre is located in the City Hall of Quesnel and from inception in January 2019, I’ve held the position of Forestry Initiatives Manager. The Forestry Innovation Centre is excellent for fuel management and FireSmart. We also support research and innovation in landscape management and forest product manufacturing. I’ve always been interested in land and resource management from a social science perspective for most of my academic and working career. 

I chose this current career because, in my opinion, the pest outbreaks, wildfires and floods we are experiencing, while they have ecological explanations, are inherently social problems with social solutions.  I believe forestry has an integral role in restoring the ecosystems we rely on for continued human survival. I want to thank the Forest Enhancement Society BC for all the work they have enabled in Quesnel, the surrounding region and the province.”

– Erin Robinson, Forestry Initiatives Manager, City of Quesnel

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Erin obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology and an interdisciplinary Master’s in Natural Resource Management and Anthropology, focusing on community forestry, from the University of Northern British Columbia. Her thesis The Cross-Cultural Collaboration of the Community Forest used the Likely Xats’ull Community Forest (LXCF) as a case study. For eight years, Erin was part of the LXCF Board of Directors and she has published peer-reviewed articles on the topics of community forestry.