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Tropical Leaves


The Full Story

SAFT is an informed group of BC’s top forest ecology scientists and forest practitioners that have joined forces in 2021 to bring better data, information, debunk myths, and provide ecologically sound alternatives to current forest harvest practices and policy.

SAFT members include: Jim Pojar, Suzanne Simard, Rachel Holt, Karen Price, Dave Daust, Len Vanderstar, Phil Burton, Frank Doyle, Dave Coates, Andy McKinnon, and Kasia Kistowska.

Any donated funds help run and populate the content of this website and social media accounts to share information on alternative and more ecologically sound forest practice

Tropical Leaves

Dr. Jim Pojar is a botanist, ecologist and forester who has lived and worked in British Columbia for 50 years.  He received a Ph.D. in Botany from the University   of British Columbia in 1974.

From 1975-78, he worked with the BC Ecological Reserves Programme, in Victoria.  From 1978 to 2004 he was employed as a Forest Ecologist and Research Manager for the BC Forest Service. From 2004 until retiring in 2008, he was the Executive Director, Yukon Chapter of Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society. His major contributions have been in ecological land classification, knowledge-  based resource planning and management, sustainable forestry, conservation and protected areas, and education (teaching, writing books, taking science to the people).  

Lately he has concentrated his ecological work in three main areas: applied conservation biology (including of wild salmon ecosystems), climate change impacts and ‘adaptation’, and education and extension. He continues to pursue plant taxonomy as a serious hobby, helping to update the Flora of BC, writing another field guide to plants, and as a regional reviewer for Flora North America Project. He is a professional biologist, certified senior ecologist (ESA), and was until recently a registered professional forester. He was a founding director of the Bulkley Valley Centre for Research and Management and of the Northwest Institute for Bioregional Studies, and a founding trustee of SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.

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Dave Daust (M.Sc., RPF) is a forester and landscape analyst based near Smithers, BC on unceded Wet'suwet’en territory. Dave’s background includes road and cutblock design, silviculture and ecosystem-based woodlot management. For three decades, he has developed and applied approaches for assessing impacts of human activities on forest biodiversity and on focal species—including caribou, grizzly bears, goshawks, marten and salmon—for Indigenous and provincial governments. He has developed adaptive management and monitoring frameworks and has facilitated workshops with topic experts and land managers. In the past decade, he has incorporated climate change into assessments, workshops and recommendations. Most recently, he participated in the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel that identified at-risk old growth suitable for harvest deferral in BC.


Karen Price (PhD) is an independent ecologist working at the interface of science and management based near Smithers BC, on unceded Wet'suwet’en territory, with her partner Dave Daust. Karen has worked on old growth and land-use policy for 25 years, aiming to bring science and transparency to decisions. She focuses on how to maintain ecological resilience given cumulative effects of management and climate. Her peer-reviewed publications—addressing old growth, ecosystem-based management, forest structure, and species from epiphytic lichens to stream insects and birds—have garnered many citations and two awards for “outstanding contribution to the sustainability of natural and cultural resources in northwest BC”. She recently sat on a provincial Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel identifying at-risk ecosystems for potential harvest deferral. Karen believes that sustainability requires a strengthening of connections between people and ecosystems.


Kasia Kistowska is a Registerested Professional Biologist with 10+ years of experience in terrestrial ecology. She has worked both in the private and public sector on various projects that managed terrestrial (some aquatic) ecosystems. In particular, she helped design wildlife habitat protection for mountain goat, caribou, and grizzly in northwestern B.C. Some of this work involved assessing Old Growth Management Areas and identifying appropriate forest practices to retain ecosystem function. She has completed various assessments of wildlife, wildlife habitat, plant identification and ecosystem classification. She has a thoughtful understanding of how local landscape pressures impact natural systems and how to manage those impacts while managing diverse human values. 

In particular, she is passionate about citizen-science, ethnoecology, and community led initiatives. She has relocated to the traditional territory of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (Ucluelet, B.C.) but once lived in the northwest for 10 years in Terrace and Smithers, B.C. When not working you can find her in the mountains or on the ocean. 

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Andy MacKinnon is a forest ecologist who lives in Metchosin, British Columbia, Canada. Until his retirement in 2015, he worked for the BC Forest Service for three decades, mostly on BC's coast, where he was responsible for ecosystem classification and mapping and a program of forest ecology research focused on old growth structure and composition, effects of climate change, and BC's native plants and fungi. Andy has also been involved in defining and implementing ecosystem-based management in Haida Gwaii and the Great Bear Rainforest. He has co-taught rainforest ecology field courses in Bamfield and Tofino (for the University of Victoria) and Haida Gwaii (for UBC).

Andy is co-author of six best-selling books about plants of western North America, and co-author of the Royal BC Museum Handbook 'Mushrooms of BC', published in September 2021. He's an Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University, and a retired Professional Forester and Professional Biologist in BC. Andy was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree by Simon Fraser University in 2013. Since December 2014 he's also served as a Councillor in Metchosin, and in 2017 and 2020 he was the Green Party candidate in the riding of Esquimalt - Metchosin. He's past-president of the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society, and enjoys drinking good whisky and playing mandolin. 


Phil Burton is a full professor in the Ecosystem Science and Management department of the University of Northern British Columbia. He is a forest ecologist with research experience throughout North America, with more than 100 scientific papers, book chapters, and books to his name. He has expertise in disturbance ecology, with a particular focus on disturbance interactions and ecosystem recovery after natural and human disturbances. Supplemented with experience working as a consultant and for the Canadian Forest Service, he has been teaching post-secondary and professional courses in conservation biology, sustainability, ecosystem restoration, silviculture, and forest policy for more than 30 years.


Len Vanderstar, R.P.F. (Ret.), R.P.Bio, RCGS Fellow

Len has worked in the field of conservation biology in NW BC (Skeena Region) for over 30 years. He holds B.Sc.F. and B.Ed. degrees, and has taught natural resource programs and courses in B.C, and Ontario. Len has cofounded and administered a number of ENGOs, most notably Friends of Wild Salmon, an umbrella organization of various affiliates that successfully stopped open-pen fish farms along the north coast, spear-headed the campaign against the northern gateway (Enbridge) bitumen pipeline and crude oil tankers, and took on the fight to stop Petronas’ proposed LNG facility on Lelu Island/Flora Banks at the mouth of the Skeena River, all in the name of protecting wild salmon and the wild salmon economy.

Len is acknowledged as a Fellow with the Royal Canadian Geographic Society for being the first Canadian to summit each high point in every Canadian province and territory, while promoting Canada’s diverse landscapes and associated cultures to school children at home and abroad. He is presently the acting coordinator for SAFT.


Dave Coates, Ph.D, RPF (Ret.)

Dave has lived in Smithers since 1979, and retired from his career in forestry in 2017. From 1989 until retirement, Dave held the position of Research Silviculturist with the B.C. Forest Service, a job that encompassed all of northwest BC. Early on he studied tree regeneration and growth after clearcutting but moved on to partial cutting in mixed-species forests including linking tree population dynamics  to ecosystem processes and complex stand modelling and management. Later he returned to 20-40 year old plantations in clearcuts to study climate-disturbance and tree-pest interactions. 

Dave was a lead developer of the complex forest dynamics simulation model SORTIE-ND and much of his research involved linking field studies to computer models that project the long-term outcomes of different logging and silvicultural practices or forest disturbances such as wildfire and beetle outbreaks. 

For his work on mountain pine beetle issues and contributions to silviculture in British Columbia and across Canada, Dave was named BC Professional Forester of the Year in 2006. He published over 50 scientific journal papers, numerous reports, and co-authored two books: “A critique of silviculture: managing for complexity” in 2009 and “Managing Forests as Complex Adaptive Systems: Building Resilience to the Challenge of Global Change” in 2013. Dave also very much enjoyed mentoring students in his role as an adjunct professor at UBC and associate researcher with the Bulkley Valley Research Centre.

Dave lives near Seymour Lake and multiple hiking and skiing trails and tries to get out for a walk, hike, paddle or ski every day. Walking in the forest continues as a favourite activity.

Rachel Holt, Ph.D., R.P.Bio

Originating from the UK, Rachel’s graduate studies and research in British Columbia created her passion for the B.C. landscape, its forests, and its incredible biodiversity. For the last three decades she has worked as an independent ecologist, based in Nelson B.C., on the unceded territory of the Sinixt, Ktunaxa and Okanagan Nations’ peoples.

Her areas of expertise include technical analysis of environmental   conditions and trends, and working with technical and negotiation teams to analyse and attempt to reconcile large complex ecological and socio-political land use issues.

Rachel has worked on the ecology and management of old growth forest from many angles over her career: from defining indices of old growth in the field in the 1990s, to policy, planning and cumulative effects assessments for the province of B.C. and First Nations in a wide variety of ecosystems throughout the changing climate of management approaches. She recently authored a study on the state of old growth in B.C., and was a member of the provincial ministry Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel.

Rachel was on the board of the Forest Practices Board for 6 years, and vice-chair for two of those. She was also recently an expert witness relating to ecosystem condition and effectiveness of policy in the successful Supreme Court Case on Treaty Rights for the Blueberry River First Nation.

Rachel works for her own one-person consulting company – Veridian Ecological Consulting Ltd., and her goal is to bring transparency to the use of data and science in land management issues in BC, and to move towards a future that considers the full values of ecosystems in decision-making. She walks in the forest to off-set her worry about climate shifts and how the immediate generation will bear the brunt of today’s poor decisions.

Frank Doyle, M.Sc, R.P.Bio, Adjunct Professor UBC-Okanagan.  

Over the last 30 years Franks work has been balanced between ecological research on focal wildlife species, and working within the framework of partnerships including First Nations, Provincial – Territorial and Federal Agencies, Universities, Resource Development Companies, Forest Harvesting Companies, and other landscape management stakeholders, to identify and mitigate impacts to sensitive species, and species at risk.

His work includes lead scientific roles on several BC Government- and university- led Boreal Forest, Costal Rainforest and Arctic Tundra ecosystem projects, looking at species ecosystem linages at both the local and at the larger landscape scales, with a focus on the entire trophic ecosystem (including plants, insects, birds, mammals and people).  Primary drivers and interests to this research include focal species, cumulative impacts, climate change, and providing insights and information that will result in the long-term management of robust and resilient ecosystems.  This work includes the Yukon’s Kluane Boreal Forest Research Project, the circumpolar Climate Change “Arctic Wildlife Observatories Linking Vulnerable Ecosystems project”, and BC’s Northern Goshawk Management Project.  Of focal interest over many years, has been a multi-partner collaborative project to identify harvest and retention strategies that allow for harvest, but also maintain the habitat needs of old growth dependent species, including the Northern Goshawk, Fisher, Marten and old growth dependent forest birds.   Frank is currently the lead for the CHN led Stads K’un (Haida Gwaii Goshawk) Recovery planning.

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Dr. Suzanne Simard is a Professor of Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the leader of The Mother Tree Network. Her research focuses on the complexity and interconnectedness of nature and is guided by her deep connection to the land and her time spent amongst the trees.

She is known for her work on how trees interact and communicate using below-ground fungal networks. Her work with her students led to the recognition that forests have hub trees, or Mother Trees, which are large, highly connected trees that play an important role in the flow of information and resources in a forest.

Her current research investigates how these complex relationships contribute to forest resiliency, adaptability and recovery. This research has far-reaching implications for land use management, including the sustainable stewardship of forest ecosystems as climate changes.

Dr. Simard holds a PhD and MSc in Forest Ecology from Oregon State University and a BSF in Forest Resource Management from the University of British Columbia. She obtained Registered Professional Forester Status in 1986. In her career, she has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and presented at conferences around the world.

She is an advocate for science communication and empowers people with science-based knowledge to help manage and heal forests from human impacts, including climate change. She has communicated her work to a wide audience through interviews, documentary films and her TEDTalk “How trees talk to one another”. Her book, “Finding the Mother Tree” was published in May 2021 by Penguin Random House.

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Jay Gilden is a retired laywer who specialized in labor law, representing unions in the USA until 2018. Jay immigrated to B.C., Canada in 2008, and has been active in natural resource stewardship issues since his arrival.  Jay's passion for the environment  stems from his connection with the land.

Jay's current volunteer positions also include:

Coordinator for the Bulkley Valley Stewardship Coalition since 2008.

Steering Committee member,  Friends of Morice Bulkley since 2009;

Steering Committee member, What Matters in Our Valley since 2018;

President, Bulkley Valley Backpackers Society since 2015;

Board of Directors, Bulkley Backcountry Ski Society since 2011;

Steering Committee Member, Bulkley Valley Clean Air Now since 2017.


In the spring of 2021, Mariko was inspired to visit the old growth forests near Port Renfrew after reading “BC’s Old Growth Forests: A Last Stand for Biodiversity.”  The rest is history. 

In her previous life she spent 12 years as a certified horticulturist and is one field study away from completing her certificate in Restoration of Natural Systems through UVIC.

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