Peter Wood joins the Faculty of Forestry at UBC as a lecturer and coordinator for the Master of International Forestry (MIF) program in the Department of Forest Resources Management. He has worked in the field of international forest policy, human rights and sustainability for over two decades in a variety of roles, including with non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations. He has served on various international expert bodies, such as the Global Expert Panel on International Forest Governance (IUFRO), and has been involved in the development of multilateral agreements on climate change and biodiversity.
Tell us about yourself and what led you to International Forestry!
I’ve worked in International Forestry in different respects since about 1999. I have a lot of experience in different aspects of International Forestry, working with government and with non-government organizations. I’ve worked for the UN, I’ve worked in places like the Congo basin, and Borneo, as well as closer to home here in BC, and across Canada. I’ve always been passionate about forests and forestry, mostly because there are so many interesting issues that intersect within it, from human rights issues to issues around sustainability. There are many, many different aspects that all come to bear when considering how we should be managing our forests.
What drew you to UBC Forestry?
UBC Forestry has an incredible bench strength when it comes to expertise on this issue. And I really think that this program brings into one place a number of different disciplines that are necessary in order to tackle the problem. I also really liked the idea of approaching International Forestry from the perspective of multiple disciplines within the faculty.
What do you hope to bring into your new role?
I’m really looking forward to drawing upon my expertise as I teach this program. I have many connections within the international community, nongovernmental organizations, and other communities that I feel would bring a lot of richness and information into the classroom. Specifically, when it comes to looking at the paradigm shift that we’re all supposed to be embarking on. and as we transition from forestry that has been primarily focused on primary forests and timber volumes, towards ecosystem-based management of second growth, and management for forest health.
What is International Forestry?
For me, there are a number of issues that bring forests squarely into the international arena. Over time, we’ve realized that there’s only so much the individual countries can do and that there are so many forest-related issues that require international cooperation, whether it be the connection with climate change, connection with biodiversity or migratory species. Beyond that, we know that there are a lot of ways that we can cooperate between countries as we grapple with some of the same problems, like the depletion of primary forests, and respecting human rights and indigenous rights.
These are issues that many countries are dealing with so we have a lot of room to explore in terms of how we can cooperate between countries. We’ve got a long track record here of international cooperation, and I find that really exciting. But we also know that things are not perfect and that international forest governance is very complex and fragmented and we have a lot of work to do to improve that.
What do you hope students will take away from the MIF program?
Within this program, we hope to prepare students to embrace the complexities of international forestry. I think that this program is really well-positioned to teach students how to operate within that environment. I, as well as the other instructors in the program, have a lot of background and experience in this issue that we’re hoping to bring to bear, and we are really looking forward to engaging with that this year and in the future.