Growing a Healthy Tomorrow at Forests Ontario’s 9th Annual Conference

Feb 15, 2023 | Peter van Dijk, Chief Sustainable Finance and Policy Officer, Canada's Forest Trust

I’m heading to Forests Ontario’s 9th Annual Conference February 16-17.  Here are a few things I’m looking forward to.

The theme of this Forests Ontario Conference is “Growing a Healthy Tomorrow,” focusing on the integral role nature and forests play in our everyday lives. This two-day event will bring  together a wide variety of academics, forestry, conservation and biodiversity experts, Indigenous innovators, business leaders, sustainability professionals and government policymakers. The planned sessions will examine the role forest management plays in improving climate-change mitigation and adaptation and how an innovative approach to green infrastructure pays compound interest within a growing green economy. The implications for these discussions extend far beyond the forestry industry to directly impact agricultural, municipal governments, and high-tech sectors, just to name a few.

I look forward to learning from the distinguished panellists and attendees to continue to support Canada’s Forest Trust Corporation’s innovation and growth.

Expert speakers attending include:  

Ingo Ensminger, professor of biology at the University of Toronto, whose work in drone-based technology is considered cutting-edge in promoting forest health technology. While continuing to test this technology, the goal is to enable researchers to detect drought stress in forests and determine which tree species perform better under certain conditions. If successful, this technology can be transferred from forest vegetation to applications in agriculture, conservation and biodiversity studies.

Dr. Christian Messier, Canada Research Chair in Forest Resilience to Global Changes, will update participants on the Quebec-based study looking into how cultivating tree species diversity helps make the forest ecosystem, particularly within urban forests, more resilient to environmental stressors.

Meg Baskerville, environmental scientist and a passionate advocate for using nature to fight climate change, will highlight recent examples of how designed riparian land use (buffer strips of vegetation) and conservation is having a positive impact on soil quality, greenhouse gas emission reduction, improved water quality and forest health while also increasing land value through the production of profitable alternative crops, controlled hunting and productive forestry.

Lennard Joe, RPF, the recently installed Chief Executive Officer of BC First Nations Forestry Council, is expected to speak to how Indigenous nations within Canada are approaching the imminent shortage of skilled forest sector workers in the next decade. This represents opportunities to develop new businesses in the resource sector. Initiatives like BC First Nations Forestry Workforce Strategy are intended to connect Indigenous talent to emerging forest sector opportunities.

When I get back from the conference, my colleague Steve Hounsell and I will provide a brief update on what we heard and learned. Stay tuned!  


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