About Us

The Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA) formed in 1994 and since 1997 has been a non-profit, genetic resource management corporation. Individual and group members represent and care about southern Ontario forest conservation and management.

We are guided by our Constitution and By-Laws (1997), By-law 97-10 – with a Code of Ethics that states:

All members of the FGCA shall sincerely cooperate in promoting the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the genetic base of the forest and shall place their duty to the forest above all other duties pertinent to the forest.

FGCA Area Map

FGCA Area Map:  pink=private land, green=crown land

The FGCA was first established under the umbrella of the Ontario Tree Improvement Board and continued under Forest Genetics Ontario (FGO) which disbanded in 2015. FGCA continues to operate as an independent forest genetics association within the area of the Southern Region of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’ (MNRF), supporting Crown land sustainable forest license holders, Conservation Authorities, municipalities and private landowners where funding permits.

Our Strategic Plan

The Strategic Plan outlines a five-year strategy for the Forest Gene Conservation Association. Each year an FGCA annual operating plan is prepared, guided by the current strategy.

FGCA has a vision of a healthy, productive, sustainable forest across urban and rural southern Ontario that includes the full breadth of natural woody plant genetic diversity and contributes to local ecosystem integrity and the social and economic welfare of current and future generations of Ontarians.

FGCA’s mission is to broadly promote forest gene conservation and to advise and assist our members and associates to apply genetic resource management principles within their forest conservation and management programs in urban and rural landscapes in southern Ontario.

2016–2021 Goals

  1. Biologically Appropriate Reforestation: Increase the quality and quantity of source-identified, native species’ seed.
  2. Promotion of Gene Conservation Principles: Increase awareness of FGCA’s programs amongst forest management and conservation sectors.
  3. Species Conservation & Restoration: Increase awareness of native species diversity and threats to their status, and develop programs for recovery.
  4. Climate Change Adaptation: Increase awareness and use of genetic resource management principles to help conserve and improve existing native forest resilience.
  5. Effective, responsive, fiscally viable organization: Maintain an NFP corporation and serve its membership.

View our Annual Reports for current and past program achievements towards these goals.

Board of Directors

The FGCA Board of Directors consists of a minimum of seven members, to a maximum of 12. This includes appointed representation from Forests Ontario, Conservation Ontario, Sustainable Forest License Holders, one member of Ontario’s native seed and stock production industry. The remainder of the positions will be filled in accordance with the By-Laws.

An executive committee of the Board consists of the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer who oversee program planning. Operations are carried out by the General Manager who supervises staff and reports to the Executive and the Board. The current Board of Directors was elected/appointed at the annual general meeting (AGM) in June 2018 and will hold office until the 2020 AGM.

President: Gary Nielsen, Climate Change Specialist/Forest Consultant, retired MNRF

Vice President: Matt Mertins R.P.F., Mazinaw Lanark Forest Inc, appointed by the Southern Ontario Sustainable Forest License Holders

Secretary: Nancy Young R.P.F., City of Ottawa Forester, Ottawa

Treasurer: Vacant

Board Members 

John Enright R.P.F., Upper Thames River Conservation Authority Forester, London, appointed by Conservation Ontario

Terry Schwan R.P.F., Forest Consultant, Guelph

Dr. Aron Fazekas, Department of Integrative Biology and University of Guelph Arboretum, Guelph

Steve Smith, Urban Forest Associates, representing Society of Ecological Restoration Ontario Chapter, Toronto

Brent Forbes R.P.F., Somerville Seedlings Propagation Manager, Everett

Rob Davies, Associate Member OPFA, Essex Region Conservation Authority Forester, Essex


Chief Executive Officer
Kerry McLaven, MFC, Innisfil

Species Conservation and Administration Coordinator:
Heather Zurbrigg B.Sc., Ottawa

Seed & Climate Change Program Coordinator:
Kristen Sandvall NPD, Port Rowan

Central Ontario Butternut Orchard Manager:
Greg Bales

Butternut Orchard Technicians:
Briana Barkley
Madelaine Danby
Becky McLaurin