Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve managing director Malcolm Cockwell has been appointed president of Forests Ontario.

The not-for-profit organization made the announcement April 21.

The Haliburton resident is replacing outgoing president and chair, Steve Hounsell, who’ll remain on the board of directors.

Some of the issues tackled by his predecessor, and board, in a 13-year-period included a battle against climate change and biodiversity loss.

“I am very excited to be moving into this role,” Cockwell said.

“Forests Ontario performs critical work as the voice of our forests, and this work is more important now than ever before. I look forward to supporting the dedicated, talented staff at Forests Ontario over the coming years as president and chair.”

Cockwell told The Highlander he’s been involved in Forests Ontario for quite a while as a director, and he has been consistently impressed by the productivity of the CEO and his team, especially when it comes to forest restoration and forest education. He said that supporting their work in his new capacity as chair and president will be an honour.

“The forest education piece is especially important these days,” he said. “The pandemic initially pulled people inside, but now it is pushing people outside: we’re seeing more and more people exploring the natural environment in Ontario. Making sure those people have healthy forests to visit – and that they are knowledgeable about how forests are managed – is critical.”

Cockwell added that alongside every other forest manager or forest user in Ontario, Haliburton Forest benefits from the work that Forests Ontario does to advance forest restoration, public forestry education, treeplanting logistics, and more.

“I would go as far as saying that anybody that appreciates the health of Ontario’s forests probably also appreciates the work of Forests Ontario – and my colleagues and I at Haliburton Forest are in that club,” he said.

Cockwell is well known in the Highlands for managing the multi-use private land stewardship company responsible for more than 100,000 acres in central Ontario.

He oversees the integrated forest products division, and the tourism and recreation division. He is also a registered professional forester and is the Forest’s representative at the Ontario Forest Industries Association. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Toronto, and is a PhD candidate at the same institution’s Faculty of Forestry. Cockwell also serves as the chairman of Acadian Timber Corp.

Forests Ontario is a not-for-profit charity dedicated to re-greening the province through the support of tree planting, forest restoration, stewardship, education and awareness.

Through Forest Recovery Canada, they say they “promote Canada’s greatest natural resource – our forests – because healthy forests sustain healthy communities and healthy economies. Forests Ontario is the voice of our forests.”

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