Canada’s future, by necessity, will be green – driven by low carbon growth, better resource efficiency and greater economic equity.
This International Women’s Day is a reminder that we still have a way to go.
According to a recent report from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, our forestry sector is experiencing a labour force and skill shortage that is preventing it from realizing its full economic potential. At the same time, our collective appreciation for the role trees play in climate action, and the need to “do different” relative to the preservation and conservation of Canada’s forests has never been greater. The way toward overcoming current challenges and thriving in the future shares a common denominator – greater diversity.
Our forest sector is primed for new growth, offering opportunities for more women to take their place as leaders and contributors. But, to promote a sector that is a viable career path for women, more needs to be done to open the doors and provide the resources, opportunities and supportive environments for women to thrive.
Canada’s Universities are taking notice. Students’ interest in forestry and forestry-related programs has dropped substantially in Canada in the last 30 years. Forestry had developed a reputation as a “sunset industry,” and career opportunities were limited too. “Twenty-five years ago there were really only two routes for foresters: working for provincial governments that own the resource … or working for the forest products industry,” said one professor. But things are changing fast. Opportunities are becoming far broader, more interdisciplinary, and more innovative as the economic, social and environmental value of forests is better appreciated. Universities in Canada are seeing bumps in enrollment as the trend towards non-traditional programs like natural resources management and wildlife conservation is “North American-wide and will continue.”
Hand in hand with this, there are numerous programs becoming popularized in Canada to nurture a more inclusive sector.
Programs like #TakeYourPlace, Women in Wood, the Greenest Workforce, and Free To Grow in Forestry, support the growth of women, Indigenous Peoples, new Canadians, and youth as innovators in a growing, green economy. Each tackles the issues that create barriers to diverse participation within the forest-based sector. This includes exploring ways to make forestry programs more attractive to young women, supporting women within the sector,helping the sector to become more inclusive of women’s voices, and highlighting women’s leadership and representation within the sector.
On this International Women’s Day, Canada’s Forest Trust Corporation celebrates the amazing women we work alongside as employees, advisors, Board members and partners. As leaders across many fields of expertise and catalysts for change, we applaud them and the growing cohort of women forging the path in our sector. Because of them, we are better.