May 09 2013
Students from Selkirk College’s Forest Technology Program recently traveled to Mexico to learn about the area’s unique forests and how local community members work together to manage them.
In the Sierra Norte Mountains of Southern Mexico
Eleven students, along with faculty instructors Carol Andrews and Jesper Nielsen, spent 11 days in the small town of Capulalpam de Mendez in the Sierra Norte Mountains of Southern Mexico. Capulalpam is rich in pine and pine-oak forests and has a history of resource exploitation, but in the late 1990's, the community gained increased control of it's forests and now works together to manage them.
Different Approaches Influencing Future Decisions
Students learned from local residents about the importance of volunteering and working together to govern Capulalpam's forests, from harvesting timber, to fighting forest fires, slashing new areas for forest roads and cutting down beetle-infested trees to keep the forests healthy. Community members join together and are able to enjoy the collective reward of what they’ve accomplished. Most of the wood is also cut, milled and used locally.
"It was really eye-opening to see such a different approach to forestry," said student Nick Rothenburger. Stefanie Bulmer, another student on the trip, said, "It will definitely influence future management decisions that I make in my forestry career.”
The trip exceeded all expectations for the eleven Selkirk students, who shared their experience with fellow students, faculty and the public during a slide show presentation after the trip.
Made Possible by Community Support and Hard Work
The trip, which was the program’s first international experience, was funded by generous donations from several local individuals and businesses. The faculty and students would like to thank the Irving K. (Ike) Barber International Scholarship fund, Steve Barabonoff of C.P.S. Investments Inc., Brent Petrick of Smoky Woodlot Management, Kalesnikoff Lumber, Zellstoff Celgar, MP Alex Atamanenko, Max Ice and Selkirk College’s Woodlot 400 for their kind support. The students also participated in raising money by cutting donated logs into firewood for sale to help cover many of the trip’s expenses.
“This class fully participated in every aspect of the trip; from the planning to the fundraising to their complete engagement while in Mexico. Together we were able to explore the broader social, historical, political and cultural values connected to forests in this part of Mexico. It was an amazing learning experience for all of us,” said Carol Andrews. “I couldn’t think of better people to share this experience with,” said Jesper Nielsen.
About Selkirk's Forestry Technology Program
Selkirk’s Forest Technology program is a nationally accredited diploma program that bridges the environment with people to ensure the balanced use of forested landscapes. The program trains forest professionals to use an ecologically responsible approach in maintaining the integrity of the whole forest in the short- and long-term. The program also reflects Selkirk's recently announced strategic directions, including building on strengths and successes to develop innovative programs and services, and increasing enrolments.
For more information, please phone Carol Andrews MA RPF at 250.365.7292 ext. 504.
Check out the photo album from the students in Mexico.
Learn more about the Forest Technology Program at Selkirk and visit the School of Environment & Geomatics on Facebook.