The position of Section Director NS Section changes annually, timed with the CIF Annual Meeting. The Director position is held by the Council President until March and the Council Past President from March to the CIF Annual Meeting.
Past Director 09/2013 – 09/2014 Rob Young, Past President CIFNS and RPFANS
Director 09/2014 – 09/2015 Jillian Genge , President CIFNS and RPFANS.
Canadian Institute of Forestry – NS Section
Chair’s Annual Report for 2013
Serving in a dual capacity, I report to you this year as both the Chair of the Nova Scotia Section of the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF) and President of the Registered Professional Forester’s Association of Nova Scotia (RPF). A year after the formation of a joint council (Council) in 2009, it was recommended by the Council President to transfer the duties of the CIF Chair to the Vice-Chair of the Council due to the burden of responsibilities associated with the RPF on that role. This lasted until 2012 when the President assumed the role as both President and Chair. This evolution led to a Council decision in 2013 that a joint council meant joint leadership and so those responsibilities were formally moved back to the President of the Council.
Sending the virtual pendulum back and forth is undoubtedly a common element under a state of change and while some may have thought the joint council to be a simple move; one of simply meeting at the same time with members who may share a membership, it is simply not. My personal feeling is that it should not continue as it is currently defined (01/15/2009) as there is no way to guarantee fair stewardship in the future.
Strategic Working Group
At the 2012 AGM, a vote of the 2013 budget gave permission to Council to engage a consultant to assist in determining how Council could function more appropriate to those traits associated with joint or shared provision; providing responsible leadership to both organizations independently while it was fully understood that their goals were shared goals:
- to reconfirm the role and purpose of each organization,
- to develop a stronger Council,
- to grow the two organizations,
- to understand member services and to
- establish alliances and partnerships
These goals aren’t so new. I fact you could probably find them, perhaps in different versions, in past action plans independently. They are the essence of an organization; equally important to both the CIF and RPF.
Peter Robichaud led this initiative through the Strategic Working Group initially and then through Council with the guidance of Gaston Damecour of AGFOR. It will be very important for all members to engage in their findings. I do believe that the complexities associated with how the Council is to function jointly were a burden as it consumed much of the dialogue at Council meetings this year. I want to thank all those on Council for their patience and input as we embraced a very challenging time for our organizations.
The 2013 Activity Plan included both member focused events as well as public outreach. Earle Miller started the year with a members golf outing in the spring while Jill Genge spearheaded both a tree planting during Forestry Week in Yarmouth as well as two evening speaker engagements. Members Peter Neily and John Ross provided insightful discussion in Yarmouth and Antigonish respectively. Please catch the Section Update in the Forestry Chronicle and on the CIF section website. It’s possible more news is to follow as a regular newsletter spearheaded by Liz Cogan is surfacing and should be live in 2014.
A great accomplishment was our opportunity to be involved with the Department of Natural Resources in the delivery of both technical and public outreach sessions regarding the Forest Ecological Classification (FEC) system that will form the backbone of future forest management prescriptions under the provincial forest strategy. We are very excited to have Mac Barkhouse lead this initiative for us, along with Sandy Hyde, Dave Sutherland and Peter Burchill as course developers and trainers. Sessions continue through March so make sure you sign up. Many thanks also go to Peter Robichaud, Earle Miller and Peter Neily for their efforts. We hope to continue this involvement with the Province in 2014.
Your Council met almost every month with the desire to not only move the meetings around the Province but to also combine the business aspect with a field portion. We had mixed results and unfortunately had more meetings in the boardroom than we did in the field. We did manage to have meetings at a scout camp in Elderbank, at DNR Windsor Depot, DNR Lunenburg Depot followed by a tour of Tom Ernst’s Christmas tree farm and woodlot, and in Port Hawkesbury at the NSPI Biomass Plant. A tour of the biomass plant was enjoyed as well as a “spontaneous” tour of Port Hawkesbury Paper arranged by RPF member Stephen Freeman.
Members Liz Cogan and myself attended public engagement sessions on the plans for newly acquired Bowater Mersey Lands – Western Region by the province. While we were enlightened and glad to engage in the process of discovering potential uses for the land, we felt disengaged as an organization. Given such, letters were sent to the Deputy Minister and the Minister of DNR requesting greater engagement with the opportunity to assist in the planning and policy development process. While we have not gained the positioning sought, we were able to improve our working relationship with the Executive Director. If we consider ourselves to be an essential element to building forest policy in this province, more persistent effort is required to establish the relationships for achieving that influence.
I tried my utmost to make a difference this year as your Council Chair; leading monthly Council meetings around the province, periodic meetings with leadership within the DNR; attending the Atlantic Teacher’s Tour and going to speaker sessions. I attempted to increase the exposure of your Council to you as members as well with the general public. You should all be very grateful of the commitment that Council members demonstrated throughout the year; people are working very diligently on your behalf. Personally speaking, I only get out of anything what I put into it and I have learned more about our section in one year that I have since becoming a member 30 years ago. I did concentrate much of my efforts on the work involved with the strategic working group and improving the working posture with the RPF. There has been progress but there is still so much to do in that regard.
While the current state of our section is holding its own, I am fearful of our future given our membership levels and the demographics of an aging membership. More attention is needed, especially at a time when forestry schools have declining numbers and the recognition of the Forester as the steward of good forest management is in some jeopardy. We are at a time when all members need to ask how they can contribute more to their organization. It is a time of increased focus on our goals and objectives. I have read more articles about Forestry in local magazines and newspapers written by those that think they understand the natural world and the impacts of resource management than I care to remember. They are simply filling the void that due to a level of complacency, we have not regarded as a priority. Time is a critical element and with only a few members serving in positions of leadership, the goals will continue to be a challenge. Our well-being currently depends on our legacy members and even this is in jeopardy. Recruitment requires a much greater effort today. Individual efforts are needed beyond the council walls. The NS-CIF Strategic Plan of 1994 recommended a 10-person Council with 13 Committees; we are currently sharing a 7-person council with the assistance of an executive director.
While the value of the CIF and the RPF is being challenged and we have had to accept the loss of members as a result. Not accomplishing Right to Practice legislation may eventually have a toll on the value of the RPF. This will undoubtedly negatively affect the CIF given that most of members are also RPF members. The question, we as members may need to grapple with, is this; “Do we; a) remain connected to the forest professional to maintain our existence or b) do we explore a much greater focus on growing our organization beyond professional forestry?” If we hang on to our present status of representing the forestry professional as membership security, than we ought to support Right to Practice and work toward an improved joint council. An alternative is to embark on a serious change in direction to an organization with an obvious position that, while doesn’t exclude Foresters, does not rely on that sector for maintaining the health of the organization. I anticipate the exercise of the strategic working group may provide us with some much-needed insight.
A Sincere Thank You
Many thanks go out to all those serving on Council in various positions. As I will be moving on to Past President and as National CIF Director, I look forward to continuing the friendship and working relationships that developed.
All members remaining on Council are deserving of a great deal of credit and appreciation from members. We are all pressed for time it seems and anyone who gives this effort is worthy of special recognition. In saying that, I especially want to extend an outpouring of thanks to Earle Miller and Peter Robichaud as they, for me, embody the very heart of our section through their support, commitment and knowledge. As they are moving out from Council, they will be sorely missed.
Please welcome me in a round of applause for the following members of Council: Peter Francis, Jill Genge, Lizz Cogan, Jason Stewart, Roger Aggas, Peter Robichaud, Earle Miller and our Executive Director Ian Millar.
Robert F. Young, BScF, RPF