Tree Planter Jobs in Canada – Interview

Interview with Jonathan (Scooter) Clark, who works as a Canadian treeplanter and various other roles, such as web designer for

How much should a treeplanter expect to earn the first season in Canadian dollars?
It varies by company and individual. In my camp, ninety percent of first-year planters gross between $7,000 and $12,000 in a sixty-day season. However, you need to subtract your major costs.

Season camp costs total about $1,200 to $1,500. A budget for lodging, meals and beer on days off should be about $1,000. A tent, sleeping bag, boots, planting clothes and planting gear can run about $750. Second year planters earn between $10,000 and $15,000 and generally add another $1,000 per year for each of the first five or six years, because experienced planters get better and faster each season.

What are the most important qualities of a successful treeplanter?
Personal motivation and mental fortitude are important, because planters need something to keep focused and driven. If you don’t have some sort of motivation, you’ll think about quitting the minute it gets really difficult. You need an answer for yourself as to why you’re not going to quit. Good attitude is important because there is a lot of teamwork. Treeplanting is not a job for people who can’t be 110% positive, even when it hurts.

What have been the best and worst parts of treeplanting for you?
The money is always nice, but in the end, not the most important. I think for most successful planters, after the first couple of seasons, knowing you’ve been successful at one of the world’s hardest jobs is great for the ego. Getting in great shape and burning off the winter fat is also a big factor for me.
As for the worst, the highs and lows start to lose their edge after several years of planting. It starts to seem like a normal job and isn’t really difficult anymore.

The actual planting becomes very easy after several years, and only things like bad rain days grind on you mentally.

What does the future hold for treeplanting?
With today’s economy, I think the home construction could diminish significantly, which will reduce demand for lumber and treeplanting. But I think there will be a reforestation industry in western Canada for the next decade, even though it might become completely government managed. People are too concerned about the environment to forego reforestation. Eventually, if times get really tough, planting may disappear, but that won’t happen overnight. And mechanization is not the answer in our region, because the ground is too harsh for machines.

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