At West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF), we work to ensure the decisions we make in our forest have the best interests of the community in mind. We view our community forest as a shared space, inviting diverse points of view for decisions. People play a key role in the prosperity of the community forest and help build healthy communities.
This feature is our opportunity to amplify the voices of friends of the West Boundary Community Forest, those who help us ensure every project follows community values, goals, and objectives. Today, we spotlight Ken Byrne, Registered Professional Forester (RPF), Lecturer and Coordinator for the Master of Sustainable Forest Management (MSFM) program at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the Department of Forest Resources Management.
Growing up next to the forest in North Vancouver, Ken’s interest and passion for forestry was reinforced at a young age. He started working in the industry as a tree planter before completing a Diploma of Technology at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Forestry, Master of Science and PhD in Forestry at UBC.
With a background in natural disturbance modelling and extensive practice implementing research in forest operations, Ken later worked at FPInnovations in cooperation with government, industry, and First Nations partners, developing practical solutions to challenges in forest operations.
In 2021, he returned to the UBC Faculty of Forestry, where he currently serves as a lecturer and MSFM Program Coordinator, which is a course-based masters designed to provide students with the opportunity to pursue their RPF designation in Canada or their Certified Forester designation in the United States. The program is accredited by the Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board and the Society of American Foresters and is the only one recognized in Canada and the United States.
“I enjoy sharing these passions and embrace continuous improvement in teaching for the benefit of students beginning their careers in forestry,” Ken said.
In addition to his role as the Coordinator for the MSFM program at UBC, Ken is a proud member of the Forest Professionals BC competency working group and mentor who has sponsored over 100 young foresters. He has also visited forest research and operations in Sweden, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the Southeastern United States.
This month, Ken and a team of 19 Masters of Sustainable Forest Management students from UBC will be coming to the Kootenay Boundary region to do research and collaborate with the WBCF.
“Our involvement with WBCF is a mutually beneficial arrangement where the students have the opportunity to work on a real-life landscape level plan through their capstone course project, and the WBCF will receive several potential scenarios designed by the students to choose from as options to implement on their landbase,” he said, adding that students will be able to work directly with forest professionals, Indigenous people, and community stakeholders.
As graduates of the MSFM program, Dan Macmaster, head of Forestry with the Osoyoos Indian Band (Nk’Mip Forestry), and Peter Flett, operations manager at Nk’Mip Forestry and WBCF, understand the importance of engaging with students through regular class visits and field tours, helping them acquire a realistic perspective and practical experience.
As Ken expressed, “It was a no-brainer to work with Dan and Peter on this project on emerging issues such as planning the landscape to manage for old growth, fire, and riparian forest level resiliency.”
Certainly, Ken's journey embodies a commitment to advancing forestry practices and nurturing the next generation of foresters. The upcoming collaboration between UBC and WBCF is a shared journey towards sustainable forest management and a flourishing future for British Columbia's forests.