Donna Janssen has a lifelong connection to forests. In fact, she’s been a landowner since she was born. Her family’s tree farm was passed down from her grandfather to her grandmother, and then to her aunt and mother. Today, Donna and her sister are working closely with Domtar to preserve its value — and they plan to carry on the legacy for generations to come.
What sentimental value does your land hold for you? It’s huge. I never knew my grandfather, and this property was accumulated by him. And then my grandmother, my aunt, my mother, now my sister and I — we all share in that value. The investments and the plans we’re making today, at my age, I won’t necessarily realize in my lifetime. So that’s a benefit and a legacy for my nephews to carry forward.
How did you first learn about the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and why was it appealing to you? When Domtar was moving toward sustainability, it was a conversation that we would have every time we’d go out in the woods with the forester, speaking for the future of our trees. Certification is certainly where our goals are. In my work, we buy Domtar paper and it has the certification sticker on it and that feels good — to know that my trees contributed to that. In the marketplace and in consumer hands, it’s a value — and that’s important to us.
How has your land changed over the years? Our methods for tree farming have completely changed. Now, with the sustainability initiative, it’s so much more earth friendly, which meets our goals for recreation as well as environmental concerns. It’s much more focused toward what’s best for our earth.
“I see in these trees the future for my nephews — for their kids. It’s a family practice. It’s a value that our family has, and it’ll continue after me.”
Are there any specific challenges that FSC or Domtar has helped you overcome, in terms of management? Absolutely. I think of one particular 40-acre tract that has been problematic since my mother planted it. It’s just wet, wet, boggy land. Working together with the Domtar foresters and the Forestry Commission, and several other helpful experts, we’ve been able to put together a plan for that land, to return it to productivity. Without the assistance and some of the principles of FSC to help guide us in planning for the reforestation of that parcel, we wouldn’t be able to have such a bright future for that land.
What does sustainability mean to you personally? Sustainability means not only are we doing good things today, but we have the capacity to continue to do that — and we’re building things and making them even better, in a way that continues indefinitely. It’s building capacity for the future, really.
How do you hope to make a difference? How do I hope to make a difference? I see in these trees the future for my nephews — for their kids. I’m going to get a bit emotional. It’s a family practice. It’s a value that our family has, and it’ll continue even after me.