Hendri Deetlefs graduated from the Master of Urban Forestry Leadership (MUFL) program in 2023. He is currently working for the City of Toronto as an Urban Forestry Planner.
What drew you to pursue the MUFL program at UBC Forestry, and how has it impacted your career?
I have looked for programs focusing on urban forestry in the past, but none were available. Generally, they were all focused on forestry. My work is in a dense urban setting; cities and how forestry is handled have moved away from conventional forestry methods. Urban Forestry is a multi-disciplinary practice that includes many fields. This program offered by UBC has addressed the many aspects of Urban Forestry, how it has evolved, and how to move it in the right direction.
Can you share a pivotal moment or experience during your time in the program that significantly shaped your approach to urban forestry and leadership?
The immense support from Sara and Amy pushing us to become better at communicating and sharpening our skills to become leaders throughout the first semester right up until presenting our Capstones has been amazing. This program is meant to be for professionals, and the standards reflect just that.
How do you believe urban forestry initiatives contribute to addressing contemporary environmental challenges, and what role do you see alumni from this program playing in such efforts?
Understanding the importance of having trees in cities and why they are implemented in a way to mitigate UHI and used as stormwater mitigation. The value of finding the balance between development and green infrastructure. Understanding trees and how they impact the surrounding community and environment. Understanding how different governance can impact urban forests and stakeholder involvement.
In your opinion, what are some of the most pressing issues facing urban forestry today, and how can professionals in this field navigate and address these challenges?
The lack of support for urban forests and trees has been an ongoing issue, but for professionals in the field to have a voice at the decision-making table gives a chance for the knowledge and benefits to be shared across disciplines. If a decision-making body understood that trees could be utilized in all the many benefiting ways that the MUFL program teaches, perhaps more would utilize them in the design.
Could you highlight a post-graduation project or initiative that reflects the skills and knowledge gained from the MUFL program?
I have been in the Urban Forestry industry for over 17 years; the MUFL program has given me the support and confidence to speak my ideas of the importance of early preservation due to tree tolerance and tree incorporation into the design of developments. Hopefully, when I publish my capstone paper, it will assist the current standards and policy development.
What advice would you offer to current students or individuals considering pursuing a similar path in urban forestry and leadership?
However much effort you put into this program is what you will receive back. If you want to make a difference, this program will give you the tools to do so. Hard work and effort pay off.