Friday, March 30, 2018

Step By Step, A Tree Planter's Handbook

The 2023 edition of "Step By Step: A Tree Planter's Handbook" is now available!

Step By Step covers the culture of the tree planting industry, camp life, suggested gear lists, health and safety, basic and advanced planting techniques, understanding quality and density expecations, site prep, working with helicopters, a planting dictionary with over seven hundred definitions, and much more.  A full listing of the table of contents is included at the bottom of this post.

If you're seeking a job as a tree planter in Canada, this book will guide you through the ins and outs of contacting a recruiter and preparing yourself for your interview.  It contains current contact information for every major tree planting company in Canada.  There's an entire chapter devoted to helping you secure a job, and Canada needs tree planters right now.

There are two print versions of this book available (plus digital editions in multiple formats).  The content of both print editions is the same, except that one has a full colour interior.  Here are the Amazon links:

2023 Greyscale Interior, $24.50:

2023 Full Color Edition, $39.95: 

2023 Kindle Edition, $2.99:

That's the lowest price that Amazon would allow me to set for the Kindle edition, but it's free if you have Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited.

To buy any of these editions from the US/UK/Australia, just change the .CA extension to .COM or .CO.UK or .AU  (although I don't think that the full colour edition is available in Australia).

Here's some background about how valuable this book has been to the training of the first-year planters within my own camp.  I tracked the statistics on the average number of trees planted by my first year planters over a seven year period from 2012 to 2018, to correlate their average production with the availability of this training information.  The period coincides with the development of Step By Step.  Incidentally, I've also adjusted the statistics to compensate for any bias due to differences from year to year in prices and length of season, so the numbers can be compared as "apples to apples."

"Step By Step" in its initial draft form didn't exist until after the 2014 season was over.  Starting with the 2015 season, I asked all first-year planters to read a copy thoroughly before they started their training.  Look at how the average numbers jumped as soon as Step By Step became available:

               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
               2018:   94,818 trees per person

For the statisticians here, I will offer the following notes:
- 2015 was the first year that I started using this material internally.  Average production increased more than fifty percent compared to each of the previous three years, and stayed at approximately that same elevated level for three consecutive years.
- 2018 was the first year that the full book became available to the public on Amazon.  It was also the first year that I started using enhanced material [internally] that later became available to the public in the 2019 edition.
- The above numbers included ALL first-year planters in my camp each year, regardless of whether or not they completed the season.
- The above data was based upon a sample totaling 89 first-year planters over those seven years, or an average of approximately a dozen planters per year. Admittedly, this wasn't a great sample size, but I assume that the trend was not significantly biased by the small sample size, based upon surprisingly tight standard deviations.
- Based upon the numbers above, the average first-year planter in my camp in 2018 grossed about $13,100 per person for their full season, and this was before the major industry-wide price increases that manifested starting in 2019.  As of 2023, thanks to a few years of increasing prices, I expect that most first-time tree planters (in my own camp) will probably gross between $16,000 and $20,000, as seen on my jobs page (and experienced planters will earn significantly more).  If you take a new tree planting job, your investment in buying this book will be repaid many times over, no matter which company you work for.


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 effort 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.  Nobody should have to suffer through incompetence and a lack of training.

If you've already been hired as a planter for 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 to apply and contains contact information for all the major planting companies throughout Canada.  It may also help you determine if you're making the right decision, because not everybody is suited for a tree planting job.

If you're a poor student and can't afford the cash to buy a print copy, I'd recommend that you get the free digital edition.  There's no catch.  Get it here:

Here's a quick visual preview of the contents (this video was made for the release of the 2019 edition):

Incidentally, I also have two separate coffee-table style photo books devoted to tree planting.

The first one is called Rite Of Passage.  Rite Of Passage focuses on summer planting work in remote tent camps.

The other book is called From Our Footsteps, Giant Forests Grow.  From Our Footsteps focuses specifically on coastal planting projects.

There are promo videos for those two books at the bottom of this post.  For more tree planting books by Jonathan Clark, visit:

Thanks for reading this far.  I'd recommend that you now scroll back up through this post and get yourself a copy of Step By Step today!


Table of Contents

Chapter 01 - “Introduction to the Industry” 
A History of BC's Tree Planting Industry
The Modern BC Tree Planting Industry
Getting the Most Out of This Edition

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
MSI's, RSI's, and Tendonitis
Ambidextrous Planting
Personal Protective Equipment
Minimizing the Risk of Illness
Mental Health
Common Medical Issues

Chapter 04 - “Working Safely, Hazards”
Common Abbreviations
Workplace Hazards
Assessing Risk
Personal Protective Equipment
Natural Worksite Hazards
Chemicals in the Workplace
Other Large Animals
Four Pillars of Safety
First Aid Drills & Emergency Response Simulations
Industry-Certified Training Courses

Chapter 05 - "Vehicles & Transportation"
Commonly Used Trucks
Specialty Vehicles
Four Wheel Drive
Road Hazards
Convoy Rules
Radio Protocol
Safety Tips

Chapter 06 - “Rules & Regulations”
Employment Standards Act
Workers' Compensation Act
Human Rights
Minimum Camp Standards for Silviculture Contractors
Complying with Client/Licensee Policies
Employer Policies
Camp-Specific or Crew-Specific Policies
Corporate Organization

Chapter 07 - “Camp Life”
Overview of Basic Structure
The Daily Routine
Your Cooks and Meals
Other Equipment
When You're Not in a Tent Camp
Tips For Comfort

Chapter 08 - “Map Reading”
GPS System
Other Map Features
Understanding Scales
Geo-Referenced Digital Maps
Measuring Slopes
Always Know Where You Are

Chapter 09 - “Nature & the Environment”
Determining Direction from the Sun & Other Stars
The Moon

Environmental Management Systems

Chapter 10 - “Basic Silviculture Knowledge”
Stocking Standards
Basic Seedling Physiology
Tree Structure
Shade Tolerance
Environmental Factors Affecting Growth
Basic Soils and Planting Media
Common Diseases & Insect Pests

Chapter 11 - “Stock Handling”
On Site Seedling Storage
Handling Seedling Boxes
Correct Handling of Seedlings and Bundles
Building Caches on Blocks
Unloading a Reefer
Stock Labelling & Sizing
Box Sizes
Understanding Seedlots & Request Keys
I-wrap Stock

Chapter 12 - “Common BC Coniferous Trees”
Other Important Species

Chapter 13 - “The Planting Prescription”
Assessing a Block
The Pre-Work Conference
The Silviculture Prescription & the Planting Prescription
Potential Non-Planting Components
Block Boundaries
Mixing Species

Chapter 14 - “Planting Gear”
Planting Bags
Your Shovel
Miscellaneous Planting Gear
Budgeting For Your First Season

Chapter 15 - "Camping Gear & Clothing"
Equipment List
Toiletries & Medicinal
Camping Equipment & Miscellaneous Gear
Thoughts for Women

Chapter 16 - “Planting A Seedling”
Selecting the Best Microsite
Microsite Preparation
Opening the Hole, Grabbing the Seedling
Planting the Tree, Closing the Hole
Practicing Your Technique

Chapter 17 - “Meeting Quality Requirements”
FS 704 System Overview
Throwing Plots
Specific Faults – Damage To Seedlings
Specific Faults – Microsite Selection
Specific Faults – Planting Quality

Chapter 18 - “Spacing, Density, and Excess”
What's In A Plot?
Plotted versus Planted Density
Target Spacing & Minimum Spacing
Missed Spot – A Quality Fault
Rationale Behind Density Variations
What Now?

Chapter 19 - “Site Preparation”
Untreated Ground
Underplanting & Selective Harvesting
Drag Scarification
Chemical Scarification
Prescribed Burning
Reclamation vs Deactivation

Chapter 20 - "Additional Planting Techniques"
Flagging Techniques
Line Planting vs. Area Planting
Piece Management
Obstacle Planting
Fill Planting & Replants

Chapter 21 - “Maximizing Productivity”
Staying Organized
Efficient Planting Techniques
Efficient Work Strategies
Staying Focused

Chapter 22 - “Behaviours & Attitudes”
Maintaining the Health of the Ecosystem
Responsible, Safe, & Respectful Behaviours Toward Others
Interacting With Society
Treatment of Co-Workers
Indigenous Relations

Chapter 23 - “Planting Throughout Canada”

British Columbia
The Atlantic Provinces
Planting Outside of Canada

Chapter 24 - “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
Related Links

Chapter 25 – “Working With Helicopters”
Helicopter Safety
Slinging Cargo
Commonly Used Helicopters
The Phonetic (Aviation) Alphabet

Chapter 26 - "Coastal Planting"
Coastal Overview
Geographic Regions, Clients
The Basics
Planting Specifications
Coastal Safety Tips
Pros & Cons

Chapter 27 - "Logging/Harvesting"
Hand Falling vs. Machine Harvesting
Roadside vs. Stump-side Processing
Feller Buncher
Log Loader & Logging Trucks

Chapter 28 - "Other Silviculture Work"
Mistletoe Eradication
Cone Picking
Herbicide Work
Wildfire Fighting
Silviculture Surveys
Timber Cruising
Beetle Work
Reclamation Work
GIS Work

Chapter 29 - “Wrap Up”
Field Practice
Career Options
Final Advice

Tree Diseases
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Planting Dictionary

Other Tree Planting Books by Jonathan "Scooter" Clark:

Rite Of Passage
(Coffee Table Photo Book, Summer Work in Remote Tent Camps)

From Our Footsteps, Giant Forests Grow
(Coffee Table Photo Book, BC Coastal Tree Planting)

1 comment:

  1. Scooter - So happy to see your passion project reach this important next stage. I know you're been working hard on in for these past years. 5 Stars to you