Daniel S. Freeman

The symbiosis of nature and business – #FjordJourneys goes to Canada

 

Who on Earth sends an employee on a paid trip to Canada to be at one with nature?

 

Landing in Vancouver’s calm and nature-infused airport I realised this would be a trip to remember. The customs officer welcomed me to Canada and asked me whether I was here on business or pleasure.

”Business”, I answered.

“What will you be doing here?” he followed up. For a moment I entertained the thought of telling him that I had always dreamed of being a lumberjack, leaping from tree to tree as they float down the rivers of British Columbia… The giant redwood! The larch! The fir! The mighty scots pine!

“Kayaking with whales and bear spotting”, was my eventual safe response. I expected a business trip full of adventurous activities would raise further questions, but the officer seemed pretty satisfied and granted me admission. It must happen a lot in Canada.

The Fjord Journeys program is one of the most special features of working at Fjord – a privilege that is granted to all employees having been with the company for some time – to experience a real Fjord.  It’s amazing to be afforded this incredible opportunity and to enjoy the company of other great Fjordians from the UK, Australia and the United States (in this instance) at the same time!

This was the first Fjord Journey to British Columbia, and Roope, our guide, had chosen a special focus for the trip.

British Columbia is a region where arctic seawaters meet the mountains amidst incredibly dense forested landscape and islands. The oxygen rich water and the temperate rainforest climate creates a very fertile environment.

Roope’s focus for this trip was for us to immerse ourselves, not only in the scenery, but in the amazing diversity of wildlife that exist in this part of the world and the special symbiosis that subsist here between the landscape and the wildlife.

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It was shaping up to be the Fjord equivalent of a big-5 safari, but instead of lions, rhinos and elephants we would be scouting for dolphins, sea lions, eagles, bears and of course the great whales that live in British Columbia.

The only catch – it rains there – a lot! And that’s what it did on our first day when we landed in the northern part of Vancouver Island. As we jumped off the small propjet at Port Hardy airport, the rain was coming down hard and the 30 meters run from the plane to the airport building left everyone soaked. But, we were reassured by our local guide, Allie, that this was to be expected. She handed us four specialised dry bags to pack all of our cloths in, as well as sleeping bags and sheets, while she happily told us that nothing would dry while we were camping and that we should expect to get wet and to stay wet!  Absolutely fine!

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But the weather picked up very soon after we set out from Telegraph Cove by boat for a two hour sail up to Glendale Cove – the chosen location to go bear spotting. As we passed the entry to Knight Inlet (what they call a Fjord in Canada), the sun was out and we had been exposed to the most incredible sights of nature. In quick succession we saw bald eagles, seals, porpoises, dolphins and  8 humpback whales put on the most amazing show for us. Meanwhile, the morning mist lifted and was replaced by incredible sunshine. This was nature at it’s best!

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As we spent our first days watching huge brown bears fishing for fresh salmon, listening to humpback whales cruise past our camp at night, kayaking amongst curious seals and spotting a pod of orcas off to hunt for the same seals for lunch, I tried to relate my everyday life at Fjord to the incredible partnership of nature on display.

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The following day, while on a hike in the forest, my tent buddy Yuri from our Melbourne studio, mentioned a podcast from Radiolab called “From Tree to Shining Tree”. It turns out that trees have formed a symbiosis with the fungus that grow deep down on their roots, which is in turn connected to all the other trees in the forest.

This relationship is fundamentally a bartering system where the trees give sugars to the fungi in exchange for minerals they need in order to grow and survive.  But incredibly, this linkage creates a network between trees that allows the forest to sense and communicate danger and even to redistribute energy from one tree to another based on needs and old age.

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At Fjord, we talk about the Internet of Things and how everything will be connected. We talk about the importance of partnerships and collaboration to create business success. We talk about the importance of great design and Living Services that continually adapt to data and new sensors.

As we were walking through the forest, I realised that it’s all out there already, and it’s been there for millions of years.

Thanks Fjord, for a memorable Journey.

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Daniel S. Freeman

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