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 Ken Nielsen, General Manager of the Chinook Community Forest (CCF), the 90,670 hectares of community forest located near the Village of Burns Lake.
Ken started his career in forestry in the early 80s when the forest industry in British Columbia continued to experience noticeable changes. At the time, several mills began to automate many of their intensive labour activities, and many rural communities depended greatly on forestry as their primary source of employment.
“When I entered the forest sector, it was mostly about prioritizing financial objectives. Now, we focus on properly managing our land for future generations, promoting community unity, and increasing wildfire awareness,” Ken noted.
As the General Manager of CCF, Ken oversees forestry and logging operations, wildfire salvage projects, and wildfire mitigation efforts. The work Ken and his team carries out in the community forest ensures environmental sustainability and employment opportunities for economic and social growth.
The community forest agreement includes eight partnerships consisting of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, the Village of Burns Lake, Lake Babine Nation, Skin Tyee First Nation, Nee Tahi Buhn Indian Band, Burns Lake Indian Band (Ts’il Kaz Koh), Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Wet’suwet’en First Nation. The collaboration between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities ensures an equal voice and equity in all forest stewardship operations.
Nielsen believes that managing the forest requires a particular set of qualities. “I am an example that to take good care of a community forest, you need an awareness of the best land management practices, a hands-on approach, a strong work ethic, and a big heart.”