The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed March 21 the International Day of Forests. As the UN website says, “The Day will celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.”

To mark the first International Day of Forests, Tree Canada has decided to dedicate the day in memory of Michelle Gauthier, a Canadian Forester who worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Michael Rosen, President of Tree Canada, and Dr. Andrew Kenney, Vice-Chair of Tree Canada’s Board of Directors, both had contact with Michelle through her international work on urban and peri-urban forests. Through this work, she became a good friend of Tree Canada.

“We were so sorry to learn of the passing of Michelle in February,” said Michael Rosen, President of Tree Canada. “Michelle embodied the international spirit of working in urban and peri-urban forests and helped many NGO’s around the world including Tree Canada,” he said.

“Michelle’s engagement in agroforestry as well as urban and peri-urban forestry, exemplified her connection with people and forests,” said Andy Kenney, Vice-Chair of Tree Canada. “Michelle’s activities reflect well on Canada on the international forestry stage and she will be missed,” he said.

Gauthier was born in Matane, Quebec, and graduated in forestry from Université Laval. She worked for the Ministry of National Resources in Quebec, for NGOs and for other organizations before accepting her position with the FAO in Rome, Italy in 1994 where she continued her work around the world. Her expertise was mainly in the fields of agroforestry, community forestry, trees outside forests, assessments, mangroves and urban forestry. She was a Forestry Officer (agroforestry and land use) in the FAO Forest Management Division, responsible for the urban and peri-urban forestry programme. Gauthier was well-known in forestry circles around the globe, and extremely well-liked. She is remembered fondly by her brothers and sisters: Carole, Francis, André, Anne, Josée, as well as her daughter Lin Wan. A memorial service for her will be held in Québec City on Friday, March 22.

In honour of Michelle Gauthier’s life and work, Tree Canada will be directing all contributions made in her memory towards our ongoing vision of growing better places to live.

For more than twenty years, Tree Canada has engaged communities, governments, corporations, and individuals in the pursuit of a greener and healthier living environment for Canadians. We have planted more than 79 million trees as part of our mission to promote the development and stewardship of urban forests.