Peter Bontkes, BA, BSF, RPF

Presenter details:

  • Date:

     February 28, 2017

  • Company:

     Silvifor Resource Consultants Ltd.

  • Position:

     Owner, Forester

  • Industry:

     2017, Forestry

Graduated from King’s University College in 1991 with BA in Psych. and Certificate in Business Administration

Graduated from UBC in 1995 with BSF in Resource Management

Registered Professional Forester 1998

Moved to Vancouver Island in 1995 and have never left.  Peter and his wife, Michelle Redfern, live in Cobble Hill and have 3 children (Liam, Oliver, Kenya) and a dog named Sophie.

Some interesting facts:

BC is larger than France and Germany combined.  Over 60% is forested, and 15% of BC Forests are in protected areas.  BC is the most ecologically diverse province,  from Temperate Rain Forest to Dry Pine Forest.  BC Forest Industry contributes $12 billion annual to BC GDP.  It’s an important industry to this province.

If you are like me, growing up in a large urban center probably meant you know little or nothing about Forestry.  While the Forest Industry is BC’s largest industry and employees 145,000 people throughout the province, most people living in large cities really have no attachment or understanding about this huge economic force in our society.  The roads we drive on, the hospitals in our cities and schools we educate ourselves in are largely paid for by the economic spinoffs of the forestry industry.

I got my first peek into the industry as a tree planter back in 1988 when I still had hair, working during the summer in the interior of BC.  That exposure and the fact that I was able to pay for 6 years of University without any debt set me on a career path that I did not plan, nor could’ve predicted how great a choice it would turn out to be.  While the forestry industry can be cyclical, I was lucky to graduate when there were lots of jobs to move into.   I have been incredibly fortunate to have been able to practice forestry on Southern Vancouver Island.


Take home phrase of the day:  “Wood is good” – producing fibre for making paper and dimension lumber for building houses and buildings is a truly renewal industry.  I have been involved with reforesting the landscape after harvesting since I was 18 years old and that part of the industry has defined my career.  Today, Silvifor employs 20-25 seasonal workers and provides a range of forestry services in the Cowichan Valley, including Forest Planning, Silviculture surveying, Brush control, Tree planting, Fire protection, Browse protection, Forest Engineering and Campsite management.

Forestry is an industry that gives good bang for your buck when it comes to investing in education – those with a degree in Forestry can look forward to a long and prosperous career with many different areas of specialization.  I enjoy working in the Forestry industry because it is incredibly dynamic, you get to work outside, are part of an industry that works against climate change, and – as much as it is about trees and seeing beautiful landscapes – forestry is about people and finding a balance between sometimes conflicting values.   A successful Forester is not only someone who has the education, skills and perseverance but someone who respects others and knows how to listen.

There are a slew of different career paths that forestry can take you:  wood science, forest engineering, bridge construction, silviculture, recreation, carbon sequestering, climate change, adaptive management, trade, finance, law, environment and renewable energy – the list goes on.  In an age where fossil fuels are perhaps reaching not just peak production but peak demand, forestry is renewable and becoming more in demand as creative minds and engineers are finding new ways to use wood in structures and as a source of energy.

In this session, I plan to:

  • Paint a picture of what the forest industry looks like
  • Describe how education, opportunity and specialization can lead to a satisfying career
  • Suggest decisions students can make that will help create a stand-out Resume