The main intent of the book is to educate new planters about all the theoretical information needed to become a successful planter. The book covers the culture of the industry, what camp life is like, basics about tree physiology, an explanation of planting techniques, a study of how planting quality is assessed, working with helicopters, suggested gear lists, a planting dictionary with over five hundred definitions, and much more (256 pages). A full index to the table of contents is included at the bottom of this post.
Even though the book is aimed at new entrants to the industry, there's a lot of information that second and third year planters probably won't have learned yet, especially for planters who started at companies with weak training programs. Some sections of the book are designed to be a reference manual rather than a training guide.
As mentioned, the book also has a detailed section about finding a tree-planting job, which includes suggestions for writing an application letter, and contact information for dozens of tree planting companies throughout Canada.
Here are links to buy the book:
The material in this book is already being used as basic training information at more than fifteen Canadian reforestation contractors. Although I'm listed as the author, the book contains contributions from dozens of industry participants: planters, foremen, checkers, supervisors, company owners, and foresters. Incidentally, if you're a trainer at a Canadian reforestation company and would like to buy bulk copies at discount pricing, see this link:
The process of getting this book together started in late 2014. Quite a bit of the training material was completed in time for the 2015 planting season, and I started to use it as the basis for training in my own camp that year. I want to give you some interesting statistics which might show how effective the knowledge in this book is.
In the six years from 2012-2017, the first-year planters in my camp averaged the following numbers for each season as a whole:
2012: 50,771 trees per person
2013: 50,233 trees per person
2014: 50,979 trees per person
2015: 77,417 trees per person
2016: 76,597 trees per person
2017: 76,553 trees per person
For the statisticians here, I will offer the following notes:
- All of the above numbers included ALL first-year planters in camp, regardless of whether or not they completed the season. The first-year planters who did a full season in 2015-2017 generally hit between 85k and 115k.
- I made a slight adjustment to each year's numbers, based on the number of days worked in that year, so that the final numbers that you see above are adjusted to a nominal 66.5 day season. This eliminated any bias based on having a slightly longer or shorter season in any given year, although the number of days per season was fairly consistent through these six years.
- Tree prices in general throughout these six years were quite comparable overall based on per-season weighted averages, with a slight upward trend throughout the six years. There was only one contract (in May of 2013) that featured significantly different prices than the May contracts in the other five years, so I did an adjustment of data for that month to eliminate bias. In other words, I'm fairly close to "comparing apples to apples." The reason that I took this approach is because I'm trying to study productivity, not earnings (earnings have trended upward slightly with inflation).
- The above data was based upon a sample totalling 76 first-year planters over those six years.
- I was very surprised at how consistent the numbers were within each trio of planting seasons, but that's the good thing about numbers: they don't lie.
If you look at the 2012-2014 average numbers (about 50,600 trees per planter) and compare that with the 2015-2017 averages (about 76,800 trees per planter), you can see that the productivity for my first-year planters jumped drastically, by greater than 51%, starting in the 2015 season. And it stayed at that higher level. Why? I believe that it was due to three specific factors:
1. I stopped hiring "friends of friends," because they weren't being vetted properly during the interview processes. People would "vouch for their friends" as being great potential candidates, but did it because they were friends, not because they were objective about a candidate's potential. Better quality applicants had been overlooked due to nepotism, and I resolved to stop that practice.
2. The training material from Step By Step was made mandatory reading, and planters were required to do a two-day "Rookie School" upon arriving in Prince George (a day of classroom time to review theory, and a day of field practice). Thanks to this, they had a better understanding of how to plant, and what makes a planter successful.
3. By forcing applicants to gain a thorough understanding of what they were getting themselves into (through reading, photos, and video resources), many changed their mind and "dropped out" before the season even started. My pre-season dropout rate actually jumped significantly starting in 2015. However, I consider that to have been a successful development. If you're not suited for planting, it's better for you to figure that out before you accept a job. That way, you don't spend lots of money on planting gear, camping gear, and travel expenses. It's a lot cheaper to quit in the pre-season than after you've travelled to your first bush camp. In the years leading up to and including 2014, my "mid-season dropout rate" for first-year planters was over sixty percent. That's terrible! In the 2015-2017 period, that dropout rate became very small, under ten percent. Planters who don't quit part-way through the season are inevitably going to plant a lot more trees, and that helped raise the average numbers in the statistics above.
You can see that two of the three factors in this massive productivity improvement were related to the pre-season training process.
When I was a first-year planter, I received almost no training at all. I'm quite confident that if this book had been available at the time, I would have made thousands of dollars more than I did that season. That's been a big reason why I've put so much time into this project over the past several years. Tree planting is hard enough as it is, and planters deserve to have resources available that will help them make the best out of their seasons. Incidentally, many of the chapters have links to additional multimedia resources which have been designed to match closely with the content of the book.
If you've already been hired to start planting this coming season, this book will be one of the best investments you can make. If you've considered becoming a tree planter, and you're trying to figure out how to get a job, this book will tell you how, but it may also help you determine if you're making the right decision.
Many thanks to John Betts and the Western Forestry Contractors' Association (www.wfca.ca). They were instrumental in getting this project started several years ago, and continue to work towards improving the industry both for contractors and for workers.
I hope you learn a lot from it ...
- Jonathan "Scooter" Clark
PS: If you're a poor student and can't afford the $19.95 USD to buy a copy, I'd recommend sending a link to the book to your parents or someone who will want to ensure that you are fully prepared for your upcoming season. After all, isn't it a wise investment to spend that amount to gain the knowledge that could increase your summer earnings by thousands of dollars?
If you'd like to provide feedback about the book, or suggestions about additional content to be included in the 2019 edition, email email@example.com (by November 1st, 2018). As this is the first edition, I'm really looking forward to hearing emails from reader about how I can improve the book for 2019.
For a list of any errata from the 2018 edition, visit: www.replant.ca/errata
For more books about tree planting, visit: www.replant.ca/books
Thanks to Karen Lomax for being my cover model!
Table of Contents
(The links associated with each chapter are the media pages for that chapter. Altogether, they contain several hundred photos to illustrate various points from the book, plus video links and useful web links).
Chapter 01 - “Introduction to the Industry”
A History of BC's Tree Planting Industry
The Modern BC Tree Planting Industry
Chapter 02 - “Why Do We Plant Trees?”
Overview of Forest Management in BC
Administration of Logging and Reforestation
People Who Should Go Planting
People Who Should Not Go Planting
Some Common Myths About Tree Planters
Chapter 03 - “Health”
Alcohol, Drugs, & Tobacco
Fitness & Avoiding Injuries
Personal Protective Equipment
Minimizing the Risk of Illness
Chapter 04 - “Working Safely, Hazards”
Personal Protective Equipment
Natural Worksite Hazards
Chemicals in the Workplace
Other Large Animals
Industry-Certified Training Courses
Chapter 05 - “Rules & Regulations”
Employment Standards Act
Workers' Compensation Act
Minimum Camp Standards for Silviculture Contractors
Complying with Client/Licensee Policies
Camp-Specific or Crew-Specific Policies
Chapter 06 - “Camp Life”
Overview of Basic Structure
The Daily Routine
Your Cooks and Meals
When You're Not in a Tent Camp
Chapter 07 - “Map Reading”
Other Map Features
Geo-Referenced Digital Maps
Always Know Where You Are
Chapter 08 - “Nature & the Environment”
Determining Direction from the Sun
Chapter 09 - “Basic Silviculture Knowledge”
Basic Seedling Physiology
Environmental Factors Affecting Growth
Basic Soils and Planting Media
Chapter 10 - “Stock Handling”
On Site Seedling Storage
Handling Seedling Boxes
Correct Handling of Seedlings and Bundles
Chapter 11 - “Common BC Coniferous Trees”
Other Important Species
Chapter 12 - “The Planting Prescription”
The Pre-Work Conference
The Silviculture Prescription & the Planting Prescription
Potential Non-Planting Components
Chapter 13 - “Planting Gear”
Miscellaneous Planting Gear
Budgeting For Your First Season
Chapter 14 - “Planting A Seedling”
Selecting the Best Microsite
Opening the Hole, Grabbing the Seedling
Planting the Tree, Closing the Hole
Chapter 15 - “Meeting Quality Requirements”
FS 704 System Overview
Specific Faults – Damage To Seedlings
Specific Faults – Microsite Selection
Specific Faults – Planting Quality
Chapter 16 - “Spacing, Density, and Excess”
What's In A Plot?
Plotted versus Planted Density
Target Spacing & Minimum Spacing
Missed Spot – A Quality Fault
Chapter 17 - “Site Preparation”
Fill Planting & Replants
Assessing a Block
Chapter 18 - “Maximizing Productivity”
Efficient Planting Techniques
Efficient Work Strategies
Chapter 19 - “Behaviours & Attitudes”
Maintaining the Health of the Ecosystem
Responsible, Safe, & Respectful Behaviours Toward Others
Treatment of Co-Workers
Chapter 20 - “Planting in Other Provinces”
Chapter 21 - “Applying For a Job”
What Makes a Person a Good Candidate?
How To Apply For a Job
You've Been Offered A Job - What Now?
List of BC Planting Companies
Chapter 22 – “Working With Helicopters”
Commonly Used Helicopters
Chapter 23 - “Wrap Up”
Suggested Equipment Lists
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations