Robert Sim graduated from the Master of Urban Forestry Leadership (MUFL) program in 2023. He is currently working for the City of Toronto as a Planner, Urban Forestry.
What drew you to pursue MUFL at UBC Forestry, and how has it impacted your career since graduation?
I was drawn to the MUFL program as it was the first one that caught my interest. While exploring multiple other schools and part-time alternatives, the MUFL program stood out as it enabled me to maintain full-time employment throughout the year. It has significantly impacted my career leading to a promotion even before graduation. It has created numerous opportunities for networking with fellow urban forestry professionals.
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 pivotal experience for me was the field trip to Europe. Engaging urban forestry professionals in Germany and Amsterdam was truly remarkable. The trip provided me with a fresh perspective, it allowed me to approach issues and situations in urban forestry with a more open mindset towards solutions.
How do you believe urban forestry initiatives contribute to addressing contemporary environmental challenges, and what role do you see MUFL alumni playing in such efforts?
Urban forestry initiatives have a diverse role in environmental challenges. These initiatives will hopefully always provide a benefit either, ecologically, socially or economically based on the program developed. I am fortunate to be in a role that allows me to be part of the discussion for planning of future initiatives.
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?
In my view, the most pressing challenge I see urban forestry facing today is the housing crisis. I believe professionals need to have an adaptive approach to effectively navigate through this issue. The adaptive approach provides the opportunity to explore alternative solutions, ensuring the protection and preservation of more trees during the challenges posed by development.
Could you highlight a project or initiative you’ve been involved in post-graduation that reflects the skills and knowledge gained from the MUFL program?
Currently, I am working on putting together a symposium for consulting arborists who work in the Greater Toronto Area. The event will have presentations from urban forestry staff on city-related topics about tree protection, permit process and bylaw contravention. The aim is to create a bridge of communication between the city and stakeholders, to foster a productive relationship.
What advice would you offer to current students or individuals considering pursuing a similar path in urban forestry and leadership?
I highly recommend this program, it has equipped me with the correct tools to drive my career forward. I would also suggest being open-minded towards new ideas and solutions. It is key to remember that while we may not be able to save every tree, the efforts matter. As urban forestry professionals, we must strive to do our best and celebrate the small victories whenever possible.