Forests Ontario

About Forests Ontario

Board of Directors

CEO – Robert H. Keen, RPF

In 2014, Rob Keen assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of Forests Ontario (the merged organization of Trees Ontario and Ontario Forestry Association) after serving as CEO of Trees Ontario since 2011.

Rob is a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) who founded a forestry consultant business upon graduating with a BScF from the University of Toronto in 1982. He has been involved in many facets of the forestry industry, primarily in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence forest region. Rob has provided forestry services to landowners, developed forest management plans on Crown and private lands, conducted wood supply and feasibility studies, led forest audits for the Forest Stewardship Council and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and fulfilled numerous silvicultural contracts with the MNR.

Rob has been an active member of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association since 1985, where he served as vice-president for two terms. He was a director and chair of the Algonquin Forestry Authority, Director for Maple Leaves Forever Foundation, Invasive Species Centre and President of the Ontario Forestry Association.

Rob is now leading the Forests Ontario team in the promotion and support of sustainable forestry across Ontario and Canada.

Board of Directors

Steve Hounsell, President

Steve Hounsell is a retired biologist (University of Guelph) who spent his career with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the former Ontario Hydro, where he managed their biodiversity programs. He was responsible for the development and implementation of a biodiversity policy, the first of its kind in the electricity industry. He also developed and managed an award-winning program linking climate change mitigation and adaptation with biodiversity management.
Steve, an ardent supporter of sustainability and the conservation of biodiversity, is also the Chair of the Ontario Biodiversity Council and a founding director of the Canadian Business and Biodiversity Council. Steve is a Past President of Ontario Nature, a past director of the Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative and a founding director of The Natural Step Canada.

Tracy Smith, Vice-President 

Tracy Smith has dedicated the past 30 years to the Ontario Public Service, specializing in Non-Profit Management and Fish and Wildlife Management, respectively. He has held various positions with the Ministry of Natural Resources, and was part of the team that brought the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan into being. From 2002 to 2009, Tracy served as District Manager in the Aurora District (GTA), moving on to the role of Executive Director for the Ontario Forestry Association (OFA) from 2009 to 2012. He now serves as Vice President and trustee for Forests Ontario and is on the Board of Directors for the OFA. Tracy splits his time between Peterborough and Haliburton, Ontario, where he enjoys hunting, fishing and hiking.

Peter Johnson, Secretary

Peter Johnson is a pioneer in shaping corporate sustainability, known for integrating environmental risks and opportunities into business practices and products.  Peter has worked across many sectors, developing and implementing business-centric programs around sustainability, climate change, risk management, CSR, stakeholder and employee engagement, metrics and reporting.
Currently, Peter works on Environmental and Social Risk within Global Risk Management at Scotiabank’s headquarters in Toronto. Peter was the first certified sustainable forest management (SFM) auditor in North America and holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Toronto and a Master of Science in Forestry from Lakehead University.

Michael Klasner, Treasurer

Michael Klasner received an HBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University in 2004.  After a stint at the prestigious Price Waterhouse, Michael took a Senior Associate position at accounting firm PwC from 2006 to 2009. Pursuant to that role, in 2009, Michael began working as an accountant and financial analyst for software company Klasner, Solomon & Partners. In 2012, he took on the role of Senior Financial Analyst at Cougar Software until 2015. Michael has also managed land in the Algonquin area for Harcourt Timber Holdings Ltd, where he developed budgets and implemented revised hunting and fishing practises. He will be joining Forests Ontario’s Board of Directors in February of 2018 in the role of Treasurer, replacing Eric Solomon.

Ian D. Buchanan

Ian Buchanan has more than 30 years of diverse natural resource management experience. Currently, he acts as the Manager of Natural Heritage and Forestry & Environmental Services for the Regional Municipality of York, where he facilitates the development and delivery of the Urban Forestry program. In addition, Ian manages the York Regional Forest Public Lands, forest conservation bylaw enforcement, environmental education, stewardship programs and invasive species response for York Region. Ian is a Director on the Boards of both the Invasive Species Centre and Forests Ontario, and has been an Associate of the Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto since 2004. Before working at York Region, he worked with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for 18 years.

Gail Beggs 

Gail Beggs, former Deputy Minister with the Ontario Public Service, has provided leadership to the Ministries of Environment, Natural Resources, and the Ontario Secretariat for Aboriginal Affairs. From 1990 to 1995, Gail was Commissioner and Chair of the Board for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. She was a board member and Chair of the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) and from 2001 to 2002, and President and CEO of OCWA. A graduate of the University of Toronto with Bachelor and Master of Science, Gail has championed the transfer of science into public policy. Currently, Gail is a member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, the Board of the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario, and the Board of Trustees of Forests Ontario.

Malcolm Cockwell

Malcolm Cockwell is the Managing Director of Haliburton Forest, a multi-use private land stewardship company responsible for more than 100,000 acres in central Ontario, and has worked in the sawmilling industry for the past 25 years. Malcolm oversees diverse land operations, including an integrated Forest Products division, and the Tourism & Recreation division. In addition to his work at Haliburton Forest, he is a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) and represents Haliburton Forest at the Ontario Forest Industries Association. He holds a B.Sc. in Forestry from the University of Toronto, and is a PhD candidate at the same institution’s Faculty of Forestry.

Kim Gavine

Kim Gavine has been in the field of Natural Heritage for more than 25 years, with a focus on land securement, land management and private land stewardship. Her career began with the role of Environmentalist with the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (now Ontario Nature). Subsequent roles included that of Urban Wildlife Biologist for the Ministry of Natural Resources, and Natural Heritage Coordinator with the Ontario Heritage Foundation (OHF).  Kim took part in the Severn Sound Remedial Action Plan–as a Biologist–studying the effects of lead poisoning in Trumpeter Swans. She was Executive Director of the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation from 2007 until 2013, when she joined Conservation Ontario in the role of General Manager.

Robert (Bob) Hyland

Dr. Robert Hyland is a recently retired physician and Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He has a longstanding passion for environmental issues. He and his wife bought a farm in 1979, on which his family has planted over 10,000 trees. As a respirologist, he is especially interested in the link between pollution and disease—notably asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.

Dr. Hyland began teaching at the University of Toronto in 1978. He was actively involved in clinical research, and published 84 peer-reviewed scientific papers. His professional appointments have included President of the Ontario Thoracic Society and the Canadian Thoracic Society, and Governor for the Province of Ontario for the American College of Chest Physicians. Dr. Hyland has been the recipient of many awards including the Queen Elizabeth 11 Silver Jubilee medal for his work at the Ontario Thoracic Society, the Council Award of the Ontario Medical Association, the Wightman award of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the Jeffery Lozon Physician Leadership Award at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Christine Leduc

Christine’s earliest experience with programs of Forests Ontario was in 2005, when she was an Ontario Envirothon Regional Champion. From that, she gained firsthand knowledge of the power that connecting youth to nature has in influencing fields of study. Christine obtained a Bachelor of Sciences and a Master of Forest Conservation from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Forestry. As a student, she volunteered with Forests Ontario’s team. Upon graduating from the UofT’s MFC program, she held policy positions in the office of the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and the Ontario Forest Industries Association. With big aspirations for Canada’s forest sector, Christine currently works as the Director of Public Affairs with EACOM Timber Corporations, a Canadian wood products company. In 2015, Christine was a recipient of the Prince of Wales Award for Sustainable Forestry and the Ontario Professional Foresters Association Fernow Award. Christine is a member of the advisory council for the It Takes a Forest campaign.

Riet Verheggen

Riet Verheggen started her forestry career in 1979 as a tree-planter with the Ministry of Natural Resources.  She completed an H.BSc in Forestry in 1982. Riet went on to be Director of the Industry Relations Branch of the Ontario Government in 2000, and became the first female President of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association that same year. She would later accept the role Director of the Forest Management Branch, and represented Ontario in the international ‘softwood lumber disputes.’

In 2004, she moved from Sault Ste. Marie to Toronto in order to lead negotiations of the bilateral Canada/Ontario Immigration Agreement. She directed the development of Ontario’s first immigration strategy, created Ontario’s pilot Provincial Nominee Program, and developed the internship program for Internationally-trained individuals within Ontario Public Service. Riet became the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Pay and Benefits Services Division in 2008, leading an organization of 300 professionals until her retirement in 2016.