Faces of Forestry: Aurora Lavendar

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 Aurora Lavender, representative of the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation (WCFC) on the BC Community Forest Association’s (BCCFA) Board of Directors.

Auroraholds a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in Environmental Studies, from the University of Toronto, as well as a Masters in Forest Conservation.

“I was interested in a career in forestry because I spent a lot of time outdoors and have a strong affinity for nature, especially when it comes to wildlife and the maintenance of biodiversity values, as well as First Nations involvement in land use planning and decision-making,” she explained. “I always wanted to be involved in the natural resource sector because I believe that the strongest changes can come from within existing systems and that there need to be passionate individuals who are able to balance all values in these impactful roles.”

After a summer working on urban forestry with BioForest Technologies Inc. and finishing up her capstone project on gypsy moth and urban pest/forest health programs, Aurora made the decision to move to British Columbia to further develop her knowledge and skills in operational forestry.

Upon her arrival, she began working at Silvicon Services Inc. and quickly became a project manager in their timber development department. At Silvicon, Aurora worked closely with clients to ensure that safety and sustainability were at the forefront of block planning and development.

During her time at Silvicon, Aurora also began working as the General Manager for WCFC, taking direction from their Board of Directors and collaborating with diverse interest groups, First Nations, and the local community to manage a successful community forest tenure while simultaneously providing benefits such as wildfire risk reduction.

Today, Aurora continues to diligently represent WCFC on the BCCFA’s Board of Directors, enjoying the amount of engagement with interest groups and natural resource sector experts she gets to work with every day to make tangible changes in forestry management.

“The public has a strong affinity for their forests and everyone who spends time outdoors deserves a voice on what happens with their local forests, which is why the community forest model is so sustainable,” she explained. “Community forests support local people making decisions about their forests and most of them are formed through partnerships with First Nations. These are prime examples of where long-term planning and innovative practices can take place and help to build resilient ecosystems, as well as supporting informed public participation in community forest decision-making and meaningful representation in forest initiatives.”

Aurora’s dedication to community engagement and sustainable forestry practices is further exemplified by her active involvement in wildfire risk reduction initiatives. Collaborating with FESBC, she played a pivotal role in implementing several wildfire risk reduction prescriptions on Hudson Bay Mountain Road, creating a shaded fuel break to mitigate the threat of wildfires to the community and provide a defensible location for wildfire crews during emergencies.

In 2018, FESBC provided funding for the development of a Strategic Wildfire Hazard Mitigation Plan and later, for treatment implementation of this project in 2023.

“FESBC has always been a pleasure to work with, providing great resources and expertise to ensure that project completion was able to succeed. Their funding is critical to reducing wildfire risk province-wide,” she mentioned. “Support from FESBC helps make wildfire risk reduction programs economically feasible for community forests, which in turn helps better protect communities from the threat of wildfires.”

This project was also made possible through several community partnerships with the BC Wildfire Service, Hudson Bay Mountain Resort, the Skeena Stikine Natural Resource District, the Office of Wet’suwet’en, the Gitdumden Clan, Mountain Resorts Branch, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, local contractors, and local resource user groups.

Aurora strongly believes that forest policy and stewardship of British Columbia’s forests have come a long way and are on the right path, with a lot of passionate individuals who are striving to create an economically and environmentally sustainable future for the forest industry.

“The culture of forestry in the province has seen major shifts in the last several decades, and foresters, technicians, and operators have a crucial role in creating a healthy, wildfire-resilient landscape.”

Additionally, Aurora emphasizes the importance of public engagement and collaboration in forestry decision-making, urging both the public and forestry entities to foster open dialogue.

“Building relationships and working together to find solutions is the only path forward to ensure the success of the forest industry and to build resilient landscapes in this era of megafires and in the face of climate change,” she said.

Thank you, Aurora, for your passion and tireless efforts in sustainable resource management and wildfire risk reduction. Your dedication to community education, incorporation of First Nations perspectives and knowledge, and biodiversity and interest group values enrich all levels of planning processes, leaving a lasting impact on forestry in British Columbia.

Faces of FESBC: Trish Dohan, Board Treasurer

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. In this month’s Faces of Forestry, we are featuring a Face of FESBC to highlight one of the exceptional individuals on our Board of Directors who helps guide our organization toward impactful change.

This month, we feature Trish Dohan, FESBC’s Board Treasurer and a key player in creating long-term benefits for our province’s forests.

Born and raised in British Columbia, Trish graduated from the BCIT Financial Management program with additional studies at the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and executive development programs through Royal Roads University.

Trish’s career began in Vancouver before she moved to Victoria to begin a fulfilling career with the BC Public Service, primarily in the Natural Resource sector. In late 2021, she retired from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, having served as an Assistant Deputy Ministry and Executive Financial Officer since 2013.

“It was in this role that I became involved in a wide range of activities including wildlife species, wildfires, and tree planting, to name just a very few,” she explained. “The creation of FESBC was one of these activities, and I have watched it evolve from a brand-new organization in 2016, to an efficient structure that successfully meets its goals.”

Joining the FESBC Board of Directors in November 2022, Trish brought her wealth of experience and understanding of British Columbia’s diverse geography, communities, and people.

“I joined the Board primarily as a way to stay connected to the Natural Resource communities that are so important to the province’s wellbeing. It’s a very special place to live, and we want to keep it that way.”

Initially, she joined as a Board Director and then became Board Treasurer in November of last year.

Optimistically focused on securing steady funding for the Board in 2024 and beyond, she envisions stability for funding recipients and FESBC’s dedicated team. This funding should generate more investment in equipment and innovation and allow FESBC to retain and recruit excellent staff, ultimately enabling them to continue to make a positive difference in British Columbia’s forests.

Given the impacts of climate change and diminished fibre supply in the province, Trish is particularly enthusiastic about FESBC’s projects focused on wildfire risk reduction while also utilizing wood fibre that would otherwise be considered waste.

“As recently seen in the Williams Lake area devastated by the 2017 fires, these projects are also enhancing the forests for wildlife habitat and Indigenous values,” she explains.

With a deep appreciation for forests and their critical role in influencing climate, water and air quality, Trish, as a new grandparent, emphasizes the importance of collective efforts to ensure these thrive for future generations.

Beyond her involvement with FESBC, Trish is an active community member, becoming involved on various boards, committees, and teams over the last 30 years. Since her retirement, she has been spending more time outdoors, enjoying the natural beauty of British Columbia and far beyond.

Thank you, Trish, for your passion and dedication to FESBC and your invaluable contributions to the well-being of our forests and communities.