2021 Award Recipients

The Canadian Institute of Forestry/Institut forestier du Canada (CIF-IFC) National Awards Ceremony was held virtually on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 as part of the 2021 National Conference and 113th Annual General Meeting. Brad Epp, President of CIF-IFC, was the moderator of this long-running annual tradition that recognizes the unique and outstanding contributions made by forest practitioners and professionals to forestry in Canada.


The Forest Capital of Canada Designation was established in 1979, and focuses on the valuable role forests play in the socio-economic and environmental health of our communities – past, present and future. Originally delivered by the Canadian Forestry Association, the CIF-IFC now administers the legacy program, and designates a community or region to host a celebration of its forest resources for a period of 12-24 months.

  • The recipient of the designation for 2022 is The County of Simcoe

The County of Simcoe is committed to maintaining and growing its vast forest network, which is owned and managed by the County. This award also coincides with the Simcoe County Forests’ 100th anniversary celebrations, which will occur in 2022. The County was the first jurisdiction in Ontario to enter into the ‘Agreement Forest’ program in 1922 and has invested in tree planting, management practices and property acquisitions to become Ontario’s largest municipally-owned forest, now spanning more than 33,000 acres across more than 150 properties. Throughout 2022, the County will celebrate the growth of the Simcoe County Forest over the past century, and will proudly share this national honour of being the Forest Capital of Canada with its residents and partners


Recognizes unique and outstanding achievements in forestry in Canada.  This award has the objective of encouraging excellence in the forestry profession.

  • The 2021 recipient is Dr. Valerie M. LeMay PhD, RPF of the Vancouver Section

Dr. LeMay joined the CIF-IFC as a University of Alberta student. During her BSc and MSc studies, she enjoyed doing remote field work in Alberta’s forests. She then worked as a Measurements Analysis Forester until pursuing a PhD at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Val was hired as the first female professor in the Faculty of Forestry at UBC in 1989. She has taught two generations of forest practitioners about the art and science of forest measurements/biometrics. Her more than 35 years of research spans the breadth of forest measurements/biometrics, including forest inventory, growth and yield, and tree allometry, often collaborating with scientists from across the globe. She also contributes to animal movements and habitat needs research, including African elephants and whales. Val is a keen supporter of CIF-IFC and the International Organization of Forest Research (IUFRO), having held a number of offices in each.


Recognition of individuals who have made innovative and outstanding achievements in forestry research in Canada. Recognition can be for developing new practices, process, or techniques, or for demonstrating the practical applications of research in forestry. This award has the objective of encouraging innovation, exploration, application, and excellence in forest research.

The 2021 recipients are:

  •  Katherine Lewis, PhD, RPF of the Cariboo Section
  • Alvin Dale Yanchuk, PhD, RPF

Katherine (Kathy) Lewis is currently the Acting Vice-President Research and Innovation at the University of Northern British Columbia, following over 10 years as the Chair of the Ecosystem Science and Management Program at UNBC. Kathy’s research examines the relationships between pathogens, insects and their physical and biological environments, and how those relationships are affected by external influences such as forest management and climate change. She has had the pleasure of working with numerous students and colleagues on important forest health problems that have supported needed changes in forest practices. Kathy has served on a number of forestry-related boards and committees, including the Provincial Forest Appeals Commission, the Board of Examiners for the Association of BC Forest Professionals, the External Review Panel for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the Provincial Forestry Roundtable, and as an expert witness for Canada in the 2011 Softwood Lumber Agreement hearings.

Alvin Yanchuk has been a scientist with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in Victoria, BC for 33 years. His research has focussed on quantitative forest genetics, breeding for resistance to insect pests and diseases, as well as the development of breeding and genetic conservation strategies for forest trees. Alvin also served as the manager of the BC Ministry’s Forest Genetics research group for over a decade. Nationally, Alvin provided direction for several Canadian forest gene conservation programs and Genome Canada projects. He also consulted for the Food and Agriculture Organization (Rome) on global genetic conservation guidelines and the use of biotechnology in forestry. In 2010, Alvin served as Principal Scientist of forest genetics research at Scion (the New Zealand Forestry Research Institute). He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.


This award was newly added to the CIF-IFC National Awards Program for 2021 and recognizes groups (including volunteer groups and/or organizations) that have made significant and outstanding contributions to advance gender equity, equality, diversity and inclusion in the field of forestry in Canada.

  • The 2021 recipient is UBC Forestry Diversity Crew, University of British Columbia

The UBC Forestry Diversity Crew is a volunteer-led organization, comprised of students, faculty and staff. The crew works at multiple levels, aiming to improve the atmosphere for diversity and inclusion across the faculty. Five years of work have supported interculturality, LGBTQ2S+, and ableism. The diverse skills of members in consensus-building, workshop facilitation, and creative expertise, has resulted in unique and varied approaches to JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion).
Dr. Sarah Gergel served as Associate Dean – Equity, Diversity and Inclusion from 2015 to 2020. She played a key role in establishing and defining this new position, leading the development of the Faculty’s approach for systemic change with regards to JEDI. She also brought a creative approach where the “bottom up” needs of students were integrated with a reflexive and reflective “top-down” series of strategies and policies. The Diversity Crew and Associate Dean have shifted the culture and conversations around diversity, inclusion and inter-culturality in the Faculty of Forestry.


This award recognizes groups or teams who have made significant, unique, and outstanding contributions to forest management in Canada. It appreciates the multidisciplinary nature of forest ecosystem management by recognizing the many groups that are required to come together in the process. This award has the objective of encouraging excellence and leadership in group contributions to Canadian forest management.

  • The 2021 recipient is fRI Research – Grizzly Bear Program

fRI’s mission is to develop understandable scientific knowledge and useful land management tools based on strong peer-reviewed science. Created in 1988, the fRI Research Grizzly Bear Program provides knowledge and planning tools to ensure the long-term conservation of grizzly bears in Alberta. Key to the Program’s efforts are sound scientific field research, practical results, and a large-scale or “landscape level” approach toward grizzly bear conservation.


Presented to individuals who have made significant or consistent outstanding contributions to the Institute through their actions in support of the Institute’s mission. This award recognizes the hard work, dedication, and commitment that individuals provide in following the Institute’s mission and the profession.

  • The 2021 recipient is Peter Forsythe, RPF of the Cariboo Section

Peter is a retired professional forester with over 40 years’ experience working for industrial tenure holders in central BC. He is an innovative practitioner applying evolving silviculture practices to develop extensive successful forest plantations. Peter has been a dedicated CIF member since 1978. Some of his involvements as a CIF member include being the Co-chair of the Conference Organizing Committee in 1997, receiving the Tree of Life award in 2007/08, leading the annual CIF “Walk in the Woods” tours, and being the tour guide of the CIF Demonstration Forest from 1987 to present. He is the treasurer for the Cariboo Section and is a member of the CIF program committee, supporting all Cariboo Section programming. Furthermore, Peter is the treasurer for the Willow River Demonstration Forest Society where he also maintains trails, signage and facilities, and has been a member of the National Forest Week BC Coalition since its inception.


The Institute recognizes that there are many individuals involved in forestry across Canada who are making outstanding contributions early in their profession. The award recognizes the contributions of those forest practitioners newer to the profession. It has the objective of encouraging excellence in the forestry profession. This award is named the James M. Kitz Award, after a person who was a member of Institute and the Alberta Registered Professional Foresters Association.

  • The 2021 recipient is Malcolm Cockwell, RPF

Malcolm is the Managing Director of Haliburton Forest, a multi-use private land stewardship company responsible for more than 100,000 acres in central Ontario. Malcolm oversees its integrated Forest Products division, which has three hardwood sawmills, and its diverse Tourism & Recreation division. In addition to his work at Haliburton Forest, he is a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) and represents Haliburton Forest at the Ontario Forest Industries Association. Malcolm also serves as the Chairman of Acadian Timber Corp., the President of Forests Ontario, and the Chairman of the Registration Committee of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association. He holds a B.Sc. in Forest Conservation from the University of Toronto, and he is a PhD candidate at the same institution’s Faculty of Forestry.


This annual award, developed by the CIF and the Duchy of Cornwall, and endorsed by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales recognizes the achievements of an outstanding young forest professional in Canada, so as to encourage engagement in and dedication to the principles of sustainable forest management policy, planning and practice, sound science-based land stewardship, and public outreach and knowledge exchange focusing on the wise use and conservation of forests and the ecosystems that they encompass. The recipient is selected by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, on behalf of the Institute.

  • The 2021 recipient is Elizabeth (Liz) Wass, RPF of the Cariboo Section

Throughout university, Liz was involved with several groups where she held various positions, including the UNBC Forestry Club, the International Forestry Students’ Association, and the Cariboo Section of the CIF. Liz is also a volunteer at the Willow River for the annual Walk in the Woods event and travelled to Uganda as a volunteer and agroforestry researcher. Upon graduating from UNBC in 2018, she was the CIF Gold Medal Recipient for her class. All of these experiences helped shape the Silviculture Forester Liz is today, and she is forever grateful for these opportunities.


The Schlich Memorial Prize is awarded to an outstanding student chosen by the university and technical school(s) represented by the Section(s) hosting the annual meeting.
The Schlich Memorial Prize is named, after Sir William Schlich, who was born in 1840 and was a German forester who became Inspector General of Forests to the Government of India. He also founded the School of Forestry at Oxford in 1905, and was knighted in 1909 for his many achievements. He passed-away in 1925 and the Oxford Forestry School sponsored a campaign to create a fitting memorial – the Schlich Memorial Fund.

The 2021 recipients are:

  •  Stephanie Wilford of the Cariboo Section
  • Natasha Lebiadowski of the Cariboo Section

Stephanie Wilford obtained an Associates degree in General Science and diploma in Environmental technology from Camosun College. Stephanie earned a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Natural Resources and Environmental Management majoring in Forest ecology and management and a minor in biology and conservation from the University of Northern British Columbia. Stephanie has worked in forest entomology, endangered ecosystem restoration, and environmental community outreach, and has participated in research in orchid mycorrhizae and effects of Western larch litter on understory vegetation. Stephanie has worked several terms as an Assistant research ecologist with the BC Ministry of Forests. And for two years, Stephanie represented the University of Northern British Columbia on the CIF- Cariboo section board.

Natasha Lebiadowski completed the Natural Resources and Forest Technology 2-year program at the College of New Caledonia. Natasha has experience being a Junior Research Forest Assistant at the CNC Research Forest, and also worked for Silvicon Services. While at the College of New Caledonia, Natasha was the NRFT CIF Student Representative, and also received the CIF Gold Medal Award in 2021.



This Award recognizes individuals celebrating 50 years of membership with the Institute.

  • The 2021 recipient is Evert Van Eerden of the Vancouver Island Section

Evert emigrated from Holland to Canada in 1959. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry degree from the University of British Columbia. From 1968 to 1977, Evert worked for the Canadian Forest Service where he was a member of a team that developed the BC/CFS Styroblock System, transforming the forest nursery sector from bare root to container seedling production in much of Canada, parts of the US and elsewhere. With the British Columbia Federation of Students from 1977-1988, he was tasked with developing and managing a private sector forest nursery program, as recommended by the Pearse Royal Commission on Forestry of 1976. From 1988 to 2002, Evert was the Co-founder, Vice-President & President of Pacific Regeneration Technologies Inc. (PRT), buying six nurseries from the BC Government. Through acquisitions and green field development, PRT has grown into the largest container-growing forest seedling producer in North America with locations in four provinces and more recently with several locations in the U.S. Evert was the Chair, Board of Directors, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (FFSBC) from 2003 to 2013, which was spun out of Government as a private, non-profit organization, providing hatchery, fish stocking and other conservation services to BC. And in 2013, Evert retired. He received the CIF Tree of Life Award in 2004, and also received the Green Timbers Award from the Forest Nursery Association of BC in 2000 to recognize his significant contributions to the forest nursery industry of BC.



Since 1908, volunteers have played a special role in the growth of the Institute, sharing their time, energy and expertise through activities such as office work, field work, fundraising, knowledge exchange and resource sharing. This award recognizes outstanding volunteers for their efforts and dedication.

The 2021 recipients are:

  •  Dr. Jianwei Liu of the Manitoba Section
  • Tony Wong, MRM, MBA, RPF of the Vancouver Section

Dr. Jianwei Liu has been a CIF member for over 20 years and currently serves as the Treasurer for the Manitoba Section. He has volunteered in the CIF annual events: breakfast meetings, research conferences, field tours, student nights. Jianwei has been a forester with over 30 years’ experience in forest inventory, productivity and wood supply analysis. At the University of Toronto, he did research in the forestry lab in the mid-1990s. He also coordinated and developed sustainable harvest levels for the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, performed wood supply analysis on 10 forest management licence (FML) areas and two dozen forest management units (FMU) for non-licence areas, over 10 million ha land base. He has a love for nature and strives for sustainable forest management. After work, he also spends time volunteering in the local community for seniors, especially important during this pandemic.

Tony Wong has been a volunteer with the Vancouver Section of the CIF for 30 years participating on the Council, on public outreach initiatives, and more recently on the technical aspects of delivering the Section’s monthly dinner meetings and presentations in person and on-line. Tony practices forestry in British Columbia working for First Nation communities. His projects include community led strategic planning, natural resources and environmental management, and training. He assists First Nations in negotiating for a share of the benefits from natural resources development in their Territories. This professional work along with participation in CIF activities is all in service to the community. Tony and his wife Deidre live in Vancouver, BC.



Tree of Life Awards are nationally recognized, but selected and presented by Sections of the CIF-IFC to individuals who have made superior, dedicated or particularly effective contributions to sustainable forest management, forest renewal and sustained yield, or integrated management of the forest and its intrinsic values.

The 2021 recipients are:

  • Len Moores of the Newfoundland and Labrador Section
  • Tom Lakusta of the Rocky Mountain Section
  • Dr. Sharad Chandra Karmacharya of the Rocky Mountain Section



This Award recognizes outstanding involvement of members in the affairs of the CIF-IFC that can result in increased awareness of the importance of forestry in Canada.

  • The 2021 recipient is the Northwestern Ontario Section

Despite the limitations presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Northwestern Ontario Section still made significant efforts to engage individuals by hosting virtual events and organizing tree plants. The Section was also involved in setting up an outdoor classroom with tree stumps for a local school during National Forest Week 2020. Through these initiatives, the Section brought CIF-IFC members and non-members together, promoting the awareness of the Institute and its mission.



This award was newly added to the CIF-IFC National Awards Program for 2021 and provides an avenue for the CIF-IFC Executive Director to recognize outstanding accomplishments of National Office team members in helping to achieve the Institute’s mission to provide national leadership, promote competence, and foster public awareness of Canadian and international forestry/forest issues.

The 2021 recipients are:

  • Kerry Spencer, Office and Finance Manager, CIF-IFC
  • Natasha Machado, Director of Programs and Initiatives, CIF-IFC
  • Jen Dickman, Communications Manager, CIF-IFC
  • Steph Robinson, Projects and Programs Officer, CIF-IFC
  • Asad Choudhry, Forest Science Outreach Coordinator, CIF-IFC

In recognition of their outstanding accomplishments as members of the team who organized and hosted the CIF-IFC 2020 National Conference and 112th Annual General Meeting – Diversity and Innovation, Cultivating Resilience in Forestry, from September 15 – 17, 2020. Like most things this past year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CIF-IFC had to pivot and plan for a virtual Conference instead of an in-person one. In just a few months, the CIF-IFC National Office staff planned a 3-day event that involved over 50 speakers, 4 plenary sessions, 8 concurrent sessions, and social events. This was the first-ever virtual Conference in the history of the CIF-IFC.