Established in 1997, Heritage Reforestation Inc. (HRI) works for the top Canadian timber producers as a Silviculture Contractor.
Tree Planting is at the heart of who we are as a Company
In 2019, HRI planted 29.5 million trees across Canada
About Tree Planting
Planting is one of the most gratifying jobs – physically and mentally – that you will ever have. Planters work in all kinds of weather, from rain and snow, to 35-degree heat. The work itself involves strapping on planting bags full of trees (10-25lbs.), grabbing a shovel and covering your land, planting every six to ten feet. Planting techniques vary from site to site. Some planting is done on site-prepared land, where machines clear debris away from the soil. This makes planting easier but also lowers the tree price. Other work sites require more work: screefing (kicking away debris to get down to the topsoil), hill climbing, log jumping and all around effort. The great thing about planting is that you are often working on a different block every couple of days. Each planter is responsible for covering their assigned piece of land, planting the correct density and using proper techniques in planting and handling seedlings. When work is done improperly, planters are required to replant and fix their land before they are given a new area. HRI employs quality control supervisors for each contract who will review quality continuously. Although it will take some time to develop the technique, good planters know how to plant a tree properly and quickly the first time, and don't have to spend their valuable time digging up yesterday's work. Replanting or filling in missed areas is a very frustrating waste of time and money.
Each planter works as fast or as slowly as they want. When a planter finishes their bag of trees, they head back to the “cache” (where the trees are stored) to get more, maybe grab some water or a sandwich, and head straight back into their land. Mornings are usually cold. it can be hard to get out of a warm van, bag up with wet trees and put on heavy, damp bags, getting your hands wet and cold. But soon the sun heats up and the bugs come out. This is where bug repellent and/or a bug jacket becomes very useful in order to repel mosquitoes, black flies and horseflies. Throughout the day, you’ll get very thirsty and hungry. It is important, regardless of your enthusiasm to get back out working, to drink lots of water continuously throughout the day. Most planters fuel up on fruit and water keep their stomach light but maintain their energy. At the end of the day, you grab your day-pack and head down back to the trucks/van. Everybody stinks of sweat and is pretty dirty. You'll tell you crewboss how many trees you planted that day and fall asleep on the drive back to camp. By this point, you will finally understand what planting is really like: a gruesome yet extremely rewarding experience.
There are numerous aspects of planting that may bring you down; bur remember that there’s always the beauty of the landscape, the reward of being camp highballer, or the thought of a heavy paycheque to take you away from your misery, even just for a moment
What to Expect
When you become a tree planter you must make a commitment to yourself to work hard in a challenging environment. It is common for the land, weather, access and stock type to change quickly from one day to the next. A planting season starts in late April or early May for most people. May usually consists of cold mornings, cool rain and lots of enthusiasm. By mid-June, the weather starts to heat-up and your planting skills are at their best. Most planting camps work five or six days with one day off spent in the closest town. At the end of June, it is well advised to take a short break to recover before the summer work begins
The Daily Routine
You wake up at five or six in the morning, get dressed, and stumble into the mess tent. A huge breakfast awaits you, and when you've finished eating, you make your lunch from the array of goodies provided by the cook, such as: sandwiches, granola bars, cookies, fruit, vegetables, or trailmix. Then you pile into your crew vehicle (usually a supercab truck) and head off to the block. Onsite, you grab your planting bags, bag-up with trees, pick up your shovel and head out to your designated piece of land. After nine or ten hours, you return to camp, where you can wash up and eat another huge meal. An important part of the planting experience is eating. It is important to replace all of the calories you'll burn during the day. Planters who don't eat or drink enough have low energy and consequently low numbers. After dinner, it's all up to you. Guitars appear, letters get written and there's always conversation by the fire or in the mess tent. Most planters crash by nine or ten, getting reseted for the next day
The Truth of the Matter
Tree planting is damn hard work. Although we love it, it is not the job for everyone. New planters should come to a season expecting to work harder than they ever have before. All planters contribute to group tasks (unloading tree shipments, etc), working as a team to make the entire season a success. Tree planting is unpredictable! Anticipate days where stock (or the ground) is frozen, the land is rocky, or the crew plants faster than stock deliveries can be brought in. It is important to make each good planting day count, and remember, complacency is a terrible waste of a potentially great season. Aim for each day to be your biggest