Forestry sector scrambles to recruit tree planters to sow millions – perhaps billions – more seedlings

B.C. silviculture companies are struggling to find up to 1,000 more tree planters


Veteran tree planter Jeff Andrews works his way across a B.C. mountainside. Facing a multimillion-seedling spike in the number of trees that need to be planted, B.C. is need of hundreds more tree planters for the 2020 season. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

It takes the stamina of an athlete to run up the side of a steep mountain the way Lann Dickson does.

“Nothing about it is easy,” said Dickson.

“A lot of people quit in the first week or two, it definitely breaks a lot of people.”

The veteran tree planter zig-zags across the mountainside in Fraser Canyon near Boston Bar, B.C., dodging stumps and branches, with 300 seedlings tucked into pouches strapped around his waist. Without losing a beat, Dickson pierces the ground with his shovel and slings a seedling into the ground. Then he’s off to the next spot he eyes several metres away.

Dickson has been tree planting in B.C. for 24 years, and skilled workers like him are in extremely high demand right now.

And that’s before the ambitious campaign promises by federal parties to plant billions more trees across Canada are even factored in.

Experienced tree planters like Lann Dickson are in high demand, because they know how to move quickly and safely across tricky terrain, and have the skills to sow hundreds of trees a day. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

B.C. alone needs to plant an estimated 48 million more trees in 2020 than it did last year in an effort to restore massive areas burned in the province after two record-breaking wildfires, and to promote carbon sequestration.

The Western Forestry Contractors’ Association estimates the increase may be the largest leap in planting volume in the industry’s 50-year history, going from 270 million seedlings this year to as many as 318 million seedlings next year.


In addition to normal projects to reforest trees harvested for logging, B.C. is planning to plant millions more trees next year in areas burned by wildfire. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Labour shortage

The industry estimates it employs roughly 4,500 workers. It will require 500 to 1,000 more planters to sow all those extra seedlings next year.

“It’s going to be a challenge for sure, [with] a lot more trees coming to market this year than past years,” said Timo Scheiber, CEO of Brinkman Reforestation.

Timo Scheiber, CEO of Brinkman Reforestation, says he believes it’s a great time to be a tree planter, as there is a huge need to reforest areas harvested and burned down by wildfires. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Adding to that extra demand, the search for reliable and experienced planters could skyrocket after a recent landmark study by Swiss researchers found that tree planting could play a huge role in combating climate change. Federal leaders on the campaign trail jumped on the study, and two parties have promised to plant billions of trees if elected.

The Liberals have pledged to plant 2 billion more trees over the next decade across the country to get Canada closer to carbon neutrality.

The Greens have an even more ambitious goal — 10 billion trees over the next three decades. MORE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s