IMFN Mourns Loss of Manitoba Model Forest General Manager

 Canada’s sustainable forest movement lost one of its strongest supporters in January 2006 with the passing of J. Michael (Mike) Waldram, RPF, of cancer.

Mike Waldram’s career began with his graduation from the University of New Brunswick, Faculty of Forestry. Shortly thereafter, Mike was applying his forestry knowledge with the Ontario government in forests across northern and northwest Ontario. As a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) Mike would become well known in government and the forest industry. Although he travelled much of the province in his career, his first plantation near Sioux Lookout, Ontario would always have a special place in his heart. It was there he wanted to return, so as to see the forest it had become.

While Ontario would provide him with exceptional career opportunities, it was the Province of Manitoba which would provide a forestry challenge exceptionally well suited to his unique personal and professional talents. For in 1992, the Canadian Forest Service attracted the attention of the forest community with the launch of a novel experiment in sustainable forest management, the Canadian Model Forest Program. One of the first to join the new program was Mike Waldram, as General Manager of the Manitoba Model Forest.

For the next 13 plus years, Mike would provide the direction and project management, and more than a little of the vision and passion, which would drive the Manitoba Model Forest to be one of the most recognized and successful Model Forests in Canada. The list of partners, supporters and contributors to the Manitoba program reflects the influence that the Manitoba Model Forest has in the province. It also stands in tribute to Mike’s professional talents and his up‑front earnest way of communicating with the people around him which assisted to build the diverse partnership that is the Manitoba Model Forest.

The program management talents honed early in his career in Ontario coupled with Mike’s partnership building acumen made him particularly well suited to the Model Forest program. Over the course of the next decade, the program grew, as did demand for his services as a “Model Forest” expert. Although focussed on his Manitoba program, Mike would apply his talents on the national scene through numerous Canadian Model Forest Network committees, workshops and site visits.

Through travel on behalf of the International Model Forest Network Secretariat, Mike would be called upon to share his personal experience and expertise with the Model Forest approach in other countries. Numerous international workshops, capacity building programs and meetings, took him to Model Forests in Thailand, the Philippines and Mexico as well as sites hoping to establish Model Forests in places like Argentina and Japan.

Perhaps his most intimate international ties were with the Model Forests of Mexico. This was most evident with his working relationship developed with the Monarch Butterfly Model Forest to which he travelled on numerous occasions. With his assistance, numerous internationally supported cooperative projects were developed which have changed many lives in the Mexican communities surrounding the Monarch Butterfly reserves.  These projects and the lives they changed will remain a testament to Mike’s dedication, talent and passion for the pursuit of sustainable communities not only in Canada, but internationally.

As host to numerous international delegations, Mike Waldram showcased the efforts and successes of the Manitoba Model Forest. Delegations from Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, the Caribbean, Mexico, Sweden and others were treated not only to an in depth Manitoba Model Forest experience but also to the charm of the man who was the public face of the Manitoba Model Forest. While his passing leaves a void that the organization he helped build must now attempt to fill, the ongoing projects and future successes of the Manitoba Model Forest will be an testament to his experience, talents and passion for the forests of the province, Canada and the world. 

George R. Kynman, Consultant and Writer, Manitoba Model Forest
February 10, 2006