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Tree planting - Canada

If you think you’re tough enough to work as a tree planter in Canada, here’s what you need to know…

About the job

Tree planting is very strenuous and seriously tough. Tree planters can walk on average 16-17km and sometimes plant around 1,600 trees a day per day. Workers can expend the caloric equivalent of a person who has run a marathon, having to heave 50lbs bags of saplings hooked to their belt all day while they dig, plant and repeat for ten hours, often on a four days on, one day off rota.

Planters tend to get paid per tree planted, meaning hard work is rewarded with hard cash, and there’s fierce competition amongst the crew to be the highest planting worker. This also means that it can take a few weeks to build your earnings and working for more than one season is often encouraged, particularly given the fact you will need to buy your equipment yourself. Pay can also depend on the contract Brinkman has, but one basic rate is at least CAD 0.11 per tree, which is about £95 per day if you plant 1,600 trees.

Planters work in camps and tend to move on as the work progresses, so you’ll be sleeping in tents with basic food provided, often in remote areas with very little chance of transport back to the nearest town, aside from cases of emergency.

Danny, Shannon and Kieran

Getting in touch

The programme featured Brinkman and Associates Reforestation Ltd., which is based in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. Brinkman plants trees in all the Canadian Provinces from BC to Ontario in the peak season of early May to early August. If you are interested in learning more about the Brinkman Group of Companies. You can enquire about tree planting in Canada at Replant for information on how to apply and what to expect.

Getting there

Costs

• Flights (both ways) from London to Prince George are roughly £800- £1000 with one change. If you book far enough in advance, you can get one-way flights from London to Vancouver for as little as £500, but this can vary significantly and you will need to factor in possible connecting flights on both sides. You are also required by the conditions of the Working Holiday Visa to have sufficient funds to return, or a return flight booked, and may need to prove this upon entry to Canada.
• Working Holiday Visa (under the International Experience Canada scheme): £85 (CAD 150)
• ACRO Police Certificate: £45
• Travel insurance: £240 (approximate amount based on four months in Canada - amount will vary depending on provider, level of cover, and length of stay. You must make sure that it covers the sort of work you may be doing).
• Living expenses: £1370 (CAD 2500) to support yourself for the first three months of your stay – you will need to prove you have these funds available to you in the form of a bank statement issued no more than one week prior to your departure. Please note this is based on the visa requirements only, you will need to do more research into accommodation and other living expenses in your chosen area of work to determine how much you will need for the initial stage of your holiday.
• Equipment: £300-600 (CAD 500-1000) is the amount Brinkman gives as a guide for how much planters may need to spend on their equipment before they start work, and they advise that planters cannot rely on being to obtain equipment at the camp. A full guide on what is required is provided to successful applicants, but will include camping equipment, planting bags and shovels, and hard-wearing bags and clothes. You may significantly reduce your costs on equipment if you buy most of this in Canada before you start work (particularly the planting equipment), rather than traveling with it from the UK.

Visa

• UK citizens can apply for a Working Holiday Visa under the International Experience Canada (IEC) scheme, intended for 18-30 year olds who want to travel in Canada and find temporary employment during their stay. For more information, please visit the Government of Canada website.
• Please note there is a limit to the amount of spaces offered under this scheme at the beginning of each year, which will allow you to stay/work for up to a maximum of 12 months, so makes sure you plan ahead.
• You will need a police background check certificate which you can apply for at ACRO.

Passport

• You need a passport which is valid at least three months past the date you intend to return. If the visa is a year the passport will need to be valid for 15 months.

This information was correct at time of writing on 24/07/14 but you should check with relevant authorities and companies as costs and requirements can change at any time.

Remember local taxes may apply and that your earnings may affect your UK tax position and any benefits you may be entitled to.