Aug 18, 2022

News

Calvin Lee’s workplace passion is applying technology to make forestry more efficient and environmentally sound.

Just 26, Calvin gained certification as a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) from the Association of BC Forest Professionals in July of 2021 – an arduous multi-year process requiring a relevant bachelor degree from the University of British Columbia. This was followed by extensive work over two years  including articling with a mentor, coursework, and examinations. Similar to a lawyer or doctor, an RPF must abide by professional standards and maintain certification through a continuing professional development program.

While pursuing a forestry degree at UBC Calvin had the opportunity to take four-month co-op terms with several employers, exploring different aspects of the industry to see what appealed. He worked as a municipal forest technician, a research assistant, a GIS analyst, in silviculture, and as a consultant helping lay out harvesting plans. It was in that last job that he had his first interaction with Teal Jones, while laying out roads and cutblocks in the company’s Pitt Lake operation.

He enjoyed working with the company, and took a job with them shortly after gaining his certification – returning to Teal Jones’ Pitt Lake operations, this time as a company forester responsible for applying technology to engineer and monitor cutblocks, roads, waterway protection, and silviculture. He works on a team led by John Pichugin, RPF, Teal Jones’ manager of Engineering and Forestry.

“John really allows us to try things out, see how they work, and integrate things that work into our standard practice,” Calvin says. “We’re able to experiment and increase our efficiency. I really like the diversity of the work. Ever since I joined Teal Jones, I’ve been introduced to more and more aspects of forestry.”

They’ve found that using drones with video and photo capabilities allows them to map five cutblocks in a day, rather than the one they’d be able to do hiking in and manually mapping from the ground – and get a better map while they’re at it. With drones they can map out slopes, roads, waterways, trees, and other data to generate 3D models that can be viewed on computers back in the office, shared with colleagues and regulators. They’re able to rapidly conduct inspections of replanted areas and roads being deactivated to identify any issues that need addressing.

“Calvin’s application of drones, cutting edge 3D mapping, and other technologies is playing a huge role in the modernization of our approach to how we work in the forest,” John says. “Throughout Teal Jones’ history we’ve always strived to evolve, to stay on top of emerging thinking and technologies, so we can manage the forest resource in the best possible way. Calvin’s knowledge is benefitting Teal Jones today and will carry us into the future.”

They’ve been doing the work for almost a year now and recently conducted an internal audit on cutblocks and roads – the results were positive.

Flowing from that, the company’s adopting a new standard approach to monitoring how cutblocks are growing back after being replanted – every couple of years, taking a 360-degree view of the block with an aerial drone. That allows them to map out the area from the same point every time and compare what they see to previous maps – identifying any issues and monitoring how trees are growing.

Next up, Calvin is working with the company’s geographic information system (GIS) specialist to develop standardized digital forms for all inspections. The company regularly has foresters inspect harvesting, road-building, and other projects and report on how that work is going. By moving to a digital form, foresters can enter their reports in a standardized manner on a tablet right at the site, rather than taking notes by hand and transcribing them into a report once they’re back in the office. That avoids errors and standardizes reporting, is much faster, and also allows them to attach photographs