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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 19 | November 29, 2001

New foresters blend sciences

Students prepared for problems with no simple solutions

The old saw about how some people can't see the forest for the trees could never apply to UBC Forestry students.

On the contrary, if the opinions of fourth-year students Megan Saprunoff and Lesley Fettes reflect those of the majority, their vision of the complex issues surrounding the forest industry appears to be multi-directional and far-sighted.

"My program provides a background for dealing with problems that do not have simple solutions," says Saprunoff, who is majoring in Natural Resources Conservation.

"It involves the integration of many values for a landscape including biodiversity, visual quality objectives, non-timber forest products as well as timber production to produce a working solution that will accommodate all values."

Saprunoff and Fettes represent a new generation of foresters -- students who often combine equal measures of social and natural science in preparation for careers that range from helping developing countries to create a sustainable forest industry to international marketing of wood products.

Both Fettes and Saprunoff see the issue of forest development on crown land as one of the most pressing. "Because the land is public land, shifting public values have a large impact on the way in which forestry is practiced," says Fettes, who is majoring in Forest Resources Management and serves as the Forestry Undergraduate Society president.

"At the moment forestry is transforming from what was an industry based on resource extraction to one that must be socially, ecologically and economically sustainable."

Technology adds yet another element to an increasingly interdisciplinary field.

Graduate student Duncan Cavens exhibits the eclectic combination of skills and interests of an increasing number of students.

A master's candidate in a program that combines Computer Science, Forestry and Landscape Architecture, he designed and wrote the software used to model future images of forested landscapes in the Forest Resources Management's Landscape Immersion Lab.

Regardless of the diversity of their programs and aspirations, the common refrain of many students is great respect for their professors.

"Learning about current forestry issues from professors who are involved in the debate and helping government and industry move towards a solution -- that's when I begin to see what my niche might be," says Fettes.

See also:

'Think world-class, think B.C.:' dean's aim

Stakeholders picture a forest, thanks to lab


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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