Gerry is Canada’s oldest and most highly regarded forester. Born in Cranbrook, BC, in 1923, Gerry attended UBC forestry in the 1940s, where he was an active student leader. Graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science, majoring in Forest Engineering, in 1948, Gerry went on to receive his Registered Professional Forester designation and pioneer significant improvements in sustainable forestry practices, especially during his 41-year service with BC Forest Products Ltd. as a Chief Forester.
A dedicated philanthropist, Gerry has maintained strong ties to the UBC Faculty of Forestry — establishing scholarships, leading fundraising efforts and sharing his wealth of knowledge. In 1994, Gerry helped found the Faculty Alumni Fundraising Committee, and acted as its Vice-Chair. He spent countless hours phoning fellow alumni, encouraging them to offer their support to UBC Forestry. Gerry also Co-Chaired the Growing for the Future Campaign that supported the Forest Sciences Centre, where the Faculty of Forestry is housed today.
Over the years, Gerry has greatly influenced and inspired succeeding generations of professional foresters through his involvement in the forestry community, his profession and his alma mater. He has been an instrumental volunteer for several professional organizations in which he held senior-level board positions, including Forest Professionals BC, the Canadian Institute of Forestry, the BC Forest Appeals Commission and the Junior Forest Wardens of BC. Gerry also actively supports community initiatives, such as being a loyal donor to the Vancouver Food Bank and the Vancouver Blood Supply Unit. He helped established the BC Festival of Forestry Society, which, since its inception in the 1960s, has successfully educated over 2000 teachers about BC forest practices.
Another cause Gerry has supported is the preservation of historical records for future generations. He is a founding member of the Forest History Society, for which he personally interviewed over 50 forest industry pioneers to document their experiences. Furthermore, he has shared a collection of his professional and personal documents with UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections, where they are currently archived.
Some of the most notable recognitions Gerry has received over the years include:
In recognition of Gerry’s longstanding dedication and tireless efforts in support of the forests and people of British Columbia, the Gerry Burch Working Forest located on the southern slope of Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island now bears his name. Gerry has been, and continues to be, a leader in all things related to BC’s forests — our province’s most treasured resource.
Join us in celebrating Gerry’s century of life and dedication to forestry by contributing to the Gerry Burch Forestry Scholarship. Your support will help show our collective appreciation of Gerry’s remarkable career and volunteerism while also empowering UBC undergraduate students to realize their dream to become the next generation of forestry leaders like Gerry.