Women In Forestry

Veteran advocate: Q&A with BC Forest Safety Council’s Marla Guldbransen

March 6, 2024
By Jennifer Ellson Avatar photo
Presented by:
Wood Business
Women in Forestry

With 32 years of experience in the forest industry, Marla Guldbransen is no stranger to the ins and outs of the woodlands. From her humble beginnings as a cleanup crew member at the Weldwood Plywood Plant in Quesnel during high school, to her tenure at Cariboo Pulp and Paper, Marla’s journey has been one of dedication and growth. After graduating from Camosun College, she returned to Weldwood before branching out to administrative roles at San Jose Logging in Williams Lake. In 2012, Marla took on a new challenge in Nanaimo with the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC), eventually becoming the manager of the falling programs in 2014. Now, she shares her wealth of experience and insights in this exclusive Q&A session.

CFI: What career path led you to your current position? 

I’ve always worked in forestry in some aspect. In 2012, I was looking for a change and started working for the BCFSC in the SAFE Companies Department. In 2014, I was approached by the falling manager to coordinate the New Faller Training Program. As the years passed, my role grew to senior program coordinator. I was tasked with managing a project that involved working with industry subject-matter experts, WorkSafeBC, the BC Wildfire Service, and the Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors to update the BC Faller Training Standard.

CFI: What inspires you to continue working in forestry? 

The passion of those that I work with inspire me to continue in this industry. I love the work that I do and the people that I get to engage with daily. I believe that our industry has some of the best sustainability practices in the world and I am extremely proud of that.

CFI: Do you find there are certain challenges or hurdles for women to enter or stay in the industry? 

Yes, I believe there are challenges for women entering the industry. The industry has typically been geared toward men as it can be very physically demanding in some respects. The work can also be inherently dangerous which may discourage women from entering the industry all together.

CFI: What can companies do to attract and support women or other people with diverse backgrounds and to advance them into leadership?

I believe that companies need to invest and believe in their employees, providing them with advancement opportunities when appropriate, no matter their diversity, ethnicity, or sex.

CFI: What advice do you have for those considering a career the forest industry, or those in the industry looking to advance? 

You won’t regret it!

When I went to college, I took criminal justice with the plan of having a career in law enforcement. I’ve been in this industry for 32 years now and have never looked back. There have been some challenges along the way, but I wouldn’t change anything about my experiences. Forestry is a wonderfully rewarding career and has so many facets to it, from planning to hand falling to silviculture, the possibilities are endless!

This article is part of CFI, Pulp & Paper Canada and Canadian Biomass’ Women in Forestry series, an annual celebration of women in the industry. Find more content here and follow us on social media with the hashtag: #WomeninForestry.

Remember to join us for the Women in Forestry Virtual Summit on Mar. 8 at 11 am ET/8 am PT! It’s FREE to register. Sign up now!