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 Stephan Martineau, the Founding Director and Manager of Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative (SIFCo).
Stephan’s passion for ecosystems and community development inspired him to pursue a career in forestry, dedicating his life to creating systems that bring communities and forests together through education and collaboration.
“In B.C., forest ecosystems represent most of the land base we interact with as humans. Finding and implementing a more balanced relationship between humans and ecosystems is a lifelong passion of mine, and forestry is the field that gets me closest to working on that,” noted Stephan.
For Stephan, the future brings rapid changes in the landscape; where developing balanced systems centred on climate change adaptation and community resiliency is critical to ensuring long-term economic, social, and environmental stability.
He believes community forests are a great platform to promote community integrity, where residents share knowledge and values that are part of the decisions made to manage local resources.
In 2003, Stephan and various sectors of the Slocan Valley community came together to bring to life their vision to develop a community forest plan to care for and protect the land and resources. The collective then became Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative (SIFCo) and met with local woodlot owners, First Nations, and other interested parties to gather community input and support letters.
In 2007, SIFCo’s application was approved, and a 25-year Community Forest Agreement (CFA) was signed with the Province of British Columbia.
“A lot of people truly care in the field, and a lot of changes are happening,” said Stephan, adding, “What I enjoy most in my career is the process of going from concept to implementation, in other words, the experience of looking back after something is completed and going, ‘Wow, this was just a thought a few years back!’”
SIFCo is located at the heart of the Slocan Valley, consisting of approximately 840,000 acres of land and water. As a non-profit, SIFCo aims to be a leader in climate change adaptation, community resiliency, ecosystem-based management, and economic diversification by providing the opportunity for the community to manage, sustain, and enjoy the benefits of the local forest.
“At SIFCo, we have been proactive in approaching a holistic response to rapidly changing climate conditions in our bioregion. I try to foresee where we will need to be 10-20 years from now — both as an organization and in our relationship with the land base we steward — and implement actions now that will prepare the ground for a resilient future,” explained Stephan.
Thank you, Stephan, and the team at SIFCo, for your commendable efforts toward community resiliency and climate change action, both integral components to ensuring future healthy forests.