Future of the Sector: Gerrit Bittner, Technical Forester in Training

Gerrit Bittner, Technical Forester in Training

Just 30, Gerrit Bittner is a Technical Forester in Training on the engineering team at Teal Jones. He plays an important role in forest management in the company’s Fraser Valley operation.

Gerrit’s days are typically spent out in the field doing block layout, establishing locations for road construction, and determining fish bearing and non-fish bearing waterways. During office days, the information he’s collected is used in the preparation of Cutting Permits, Road Permits and Road Construction and Logging Plans.

Forestry runs deep in Gerrit’s family. A member of the Wuikinuxv First Nation from Oweekeno, he grew up in Bella Coola where his father owns a logging company. Gerrit started his career as a chokerman and worked his way up to be a rigging slinger. Gerrit attributes a lot of his timber harvest and industry knowledge to his father.

In 2017, a work colleague told Gerrit about a seasonal position at Teal Jones. He’s worked with the company’s engineering team ever since. Recently, he earned his Environmental Resources Technology diploma at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, finishing top of his class with a GPA of 3.55. During his two years in school, Gerrit would live in Merritt during the weekdays and visit his young son and significant other during the weekends at their home in Spuzzum. Gerrit is currently working his way toward becoming a Registered Forest Technician, a key role in responsible forest management.

Gerrit appreciates the commitment of foresters reconciling with First Nations. “I see an increase in cultural awareness. The industry is ever-changing — new standards are always being developed with old growth, wildfires, floods, harvesting, and reforestation,” says Gerrit.

Exciting times are ahead for the industry. B.C.’s 18th Chief Forester, Shane Berg, has aimed to maximize the use of fibre products, eliminating waste by using mill by-products for things like oriented strand board and biofoam. It can even be used to replace bitumen in asphalt. Gerrit hopes to see this implemented as a standard soon.

Gerrit has advice for those looking to start a career in forestry, “The industry is constantly changing with new techniques for better practice. Be proactive, stay up to date, and study as much as you can. As a professional forester, you should be committed to protecting the public interest, by insuring you have the requisite knowledge to manage the forest safely and respectfully. There’s a new generation of foresters coming, and the best time to get in is now. If you get a chance just go for it.”