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 Peter Flett, Operations Manager with Nk’Mip Forestry and West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF).
Peter’s journey toward forestry had some detours before he found exactly what he was looking for. He started his education by obtaining a Bachelor of Human Kinetics from the University of British Columbia (UBC), hoping to have a career as a physiotherapist. However, Peter realized he was meant to work outdoors and be surrounded by nature.
“I have always loved the outdoors and being active, so it is not surprising that I ended up working in the forest industry. I started researching education programs in natural resources and was admitted to the Natural Resource Science program at Thompson Rivers University, where I completed courses in soils, hydrology, dendrology, and forest ecology, among others – all of which I found incredibly engaging and enjoyable led by exceptional professors and instructors,” noted Peter.
He then joined UBC’s Master’s program in Sustainable Forest Management. After graduation, Peter was offered the opportunity to join the team at Vaagen Fibre Canada (Vaagen) in Midway. With Vaagen, Peter was able to dive into a wide array of forestry roles, from project management, planning, operational supervision and silviculture to building relationships and partnerships with the local community.
Today, Peter is Operations Manager for the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) forestry department, Nk’Mip Forestry and West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF). Peter’s involvement goes beyond the typical forestry field and office work. In this role, he works with First Nation Band members and local citizens before and during project planning to incorporate the values of the area and address potential concerns up front.
“What I like the most about being connected to the community is building relationships with our Indigenous partners and groups such as BC Wildfire Service, stewardship and wildlife organizations, recreationists, hunters, ranchers, the general public, government, funding agencies, forestry companies, among others,” said Peter.
As part of the forest management team for the OIB and WBCF, he makes sure forest practices adhere to a foundation of sustainable forest management by balancing ecological, social, cultural and economic values.
“Each day at ’work’ brings new challenges, successes, and frustrations. After a project has wrapped up, I re-visit the site periodically for years, and it brings a sense of accomplishment and an opportunity to learn from what worked or didn’t work in the past,” explained Peter.
After joining the industry, Peter realized that today’s youth need to be informed of the many career opportunities in forestry. Working with OIB and WBCF, Peter shares his forestry knowledge with the local youth through educational tours.
“I think it is important to educate young people about the career opportunities in forestry. Forestry is not solely cutting down trees or using chainsaws, which is what many people see, but there are so many unique opportunities within the industry. There are an amazing variety of roles available today in fields like wildfire, biology, remote sensing, engineering, mapping, community engagement, silviculture, operations, planning, and project administration,” said Peter.
Thank you, Peter, for involving community members to be part of forestry projects, inviting diverse points of view to every decision, and inspiring youth to take an interest in careers in forestry.