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  • Writer's pictureVaagen Fibre Canada

Voices of Vaagen: Peter Flett, Professional Forester

At Vaagen Fibre Canada, we are proud of all the team members who dedicate their time to sustainable forestry, helping us build strong partnerships in the community that lead to remarkable projects. Today, we are amplifying the voice of Peter Flett, Registered Professional Forester at Vaagen Fibre Canada.

Peter’s journey toward forestry had some detours before he found exactly what he was looking for.

“I have always loved the outdoors and being active, so it is not surprising that I ended up working in the forestry industry. However, when I started studying, I had no awareness of the career opportunities in forestry,” he said.

Peter started his education by obtaining a Bachelor of Human Kinetics from UBC Okanagan and planned to work in physiotherapy. However, he quickly realized that he wanted to look for work that would take him outside the four walls of an office.

“I started researching education programs in natural resources and was admitted to the Natural Resource Science program at Thompson Rivers University where I completed courses in soils, hydrology, dendrology, forest ecology, among others, all of which I found incredibly engaging and enjoyable,” said Peter.

He then found out about the UBC’s Master’s program in Sustainable Forest Management and met Dan Macmaster, Fibre Manager at Vaagen Fibre Canada through the program in 2017; that is where his career would broaden.

“Halfway through the program, Dan presented an assignment to our class. I liked how he held himself and found the assignment quite appealing, so I connected with him out of class and that’s where it all started,” Peter said, adding that after working in 100 Mile House as a silviculture summer student and in West Kelowna as a forestry technician, he met with Dan, who offered him a job with Vaagen Fibre Canada in Midway.

While Peter’s work as a Registered Professional Forester focuses on project management, planning, operational supervision and silviculture, an aspect of his job that he feels passionately about is building relationships and partnerships with First Nations, community members, government and other stakeholders.

“It is crucial to build relationships within the community to help promote sustainable forestry, and I love that much of my work focuses on that.”

With Vaagen, Peter is able to dive into the kind of work he enjoys, and many of his values overlap with those of the company’s.

“I relate to Vaagen’s ideology that promotes thinning the forests from below and improving landscape resilience to natural disturbance. They have shown this can be done while preserving cultural, social, and environmental values,” said Peter. “We are providing economic stability to local communities by adding value to small diameter and marginal wood, reducing wildfire risk, and building trust with our Indigenous and industry partners.”

After joining the industry, Peter realized that today’s youth need to be informed of the many opportunities that forestry can offer.

“I think it is important to educate young people about the career opportunities in forestry. Forestry is not solely running equipment or chainsaws which is many times what a lot of people see, but there are so many opportunities within the industry; whether it is using technology like drones, mapping, stakeholder engagement, office planning, or fieldwork,” he said. “There is an abundance of forestry jobs out there that don’t necessarily require a forestry background or education, but they are rarely talked about in high schools.”

Working with Vaagen, Peter’s desire to educate youth is being realized through his involvement with Osoyoos Indian Band summer student programs and Vaagen’s partnership with the West Boundary Community Forest, who provides outdoor learning opportunities for students of all ages at the WBCF Outdoor Education Centre.

“I think we need to better inform the public about forestry projects occurring across the province that are not just timber-driven. There are so many multi-faceted projects that people would find interesting and positive. My hope is that we will gain public support and increase the amount of young people entering the workforce.”

Peter Flett is a Registered Professional Forester with Vaagen Fibre Canada. He graduated with a Master’s degree in Sustainable Forest Management from UBC and works closely with the West Boundary Community Forest and Osoyoos Indian Band. He is also a director for the Phoenix Interpretive Forest Society and a member of the BC Community Forest Association Old Growth Working Group.

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