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Ontario Tree Seed Plant Hosts Forests Ontario’s Annual General Meeting

On September 20th, 2014, Forests Ontario held its 1st Annual General Meeting since it formed following the merger of Trees Ontario and the Ontario Forestry Association. The meeting was held at the Ontario Tree Seed Plant (OTSP) in Angus, Ontario and kicked off with an introduction from Forests Ontario CEO, Rob Keen, who welcomed members and trustees to the day’s event. Rob gave a special thank you to Al Foley, General Manager of the OTSP, for hosting the event and introduced Foley to the assembled members.

Foley gave a brief history of the facility and discussed two particular areas in which the OTSP is supported by the work of Forests Ontario. “Forests Ontario works closely and collaboratively with us to plan ahead by providing seed collection targets up to five years in advance of tree planting efforts,” shared Foley. “Beyond that, Forests Ontario is ensuring the future of seed collecting competencies through the ongoing training of seed collectors. We are very thankful to Forests Ontario for their contributions and support.”

After introductions, Steve Hounsell, President of Forests Ontario, called the meeting to order. The business of the meeting ran smoothly with all motions being carried unanimously. Hounsell’s President’s Report discussed Forests Ontario’s many successes since the merger in January 2014.

Hounsell stressed the importance of the work being done by Forests Ontario but highlighted the many ongoing challenges facing Ontario’s forests. “Believe me,” he said. “The urgency for a stronger voice and more effective action is real. We have growing threats from invasive species, forest pathogens, and climate change to contend with.” Steve thanked Forests Ontario’s Board of Trustees for their tireless work and congratulated Rob and his staff for their hard work and dedication.

Hounsell also took the time to pay special thanks to the outgoing trustees who would be stepping down. He paid tribute to Charlie Lauer, Neil Haist, and Joey Brown and thanked each trustee for their tremendous service and continued support of the organization. Charlie Lauer had been a Director of the OFA since 2009, and throughout his tenure had provided strategic advice on numerous issues, including the merger. Both Neil Haist and Joey Brown joined the Board in 2009. Neil made significant contributions to education programs, being a past participant of Tree Bee, while Joey provided considerable financial advice and direction while serving as Treasurer.

Chair of the Nominating Committee, Donald MacDonald, put forward the election of three new trustees: Kim Gavine, General Manger of Conservation Ontario, Malcolm Cecil-Cockwell, Manager at Haliburton Forest and Wildlife, and Gail Beggs, former Deputy Minister of the Environment. These new trustees bring with them a wealth of knowledge in the public and private sectors and a deep knowledge of governance, forestry and conservation and were unanimously voted in by the membership.

Rob Keen shared a Year in Review Report and discussed the ongoing need for public awareness on the importance forests play in our lives. “Our staff work proactively to spread our message and continue our educational efforts on the ecological services our forests provide,” said Keen. “We must continue speaking up and provide a balanced perspective so as to be recognized as a reliable, independent voice for our forests.” He also stressed the importance of continuing to work with like-minded organizations to provide consistent and united messaging to the public. “We are better poised to be the ‘go-to’ organization that people turn to for information,” shared Keen. “The need for awareness of the importance of our forests has never been more needed.”

The meeting was followed by a tour of the OTSP facilities led by Al Foley. Al led the tour through all areas of the plant and provided a detailed account of operations undertaken at the plant. The day concluded with a barbeque that allowed members to network.

“The meeting was a great success and we must thank Al at the OTSP for hosting such a great event,” said Rob. “As always, it’s a privilege to meet with our members and look for ways to work together to achieve our goals. I look forward to continuing to engage with our members over the years to come.”