Women in Forestry: Sarah Blake, FIT

Sarah Blake, FIT  

Chetwynd Forest Industries, West Fraser

This is Sarah Blake, a Planning Coordinator at the Woodlands department of Chetwynd Forest Industries, a division of West Fraser. In this role, she is responsible for all the planning activities before an area of forest is harvested – from securing permits for road construction and First Nations and stakeholder engagement to preparing timber appraisals and cutting permits to be reviewed by registered professional foresters (RPF).

Sarah has a bachelor’s degree in environmental management from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She worked in the wildlife and environmental management sector before taking a job as a forestry coordinator for the Saulteau First Nation in Chetwynd, where she liaised with forestry companies about the Nation’s values, knowledge, and techniques around forest management. It was through this job that she decided she wanted to advance her career in the forest sector and work towards completing her RPF.

In addition to this, she is the divisional Environmental Management System (EMS) Coordinator at Chetwynd Forest Industries, where she ensures that the division is meeting its obligations as part of its Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) certification. She is also developing a drone program so that her division can do its own surveys and improve their remote sensing capabilities.

For women considering a career in forestry, Sarah would tell you, although it is historically a male-dominated profession, it is becoming much more diverse. She said her office is nearly 50 per cent women, and it was similar in university. “There are lots of opportunities, so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Everyone is accepting and understands the value that different perspectives bring to the industry”, says Sarah.