Monday, September 17, 2012

BC 2013 Tree Planting Forecast at 260 Million Trees

The number of trees planted in BC in 2013 is expected to rise, according to the WSCA ( Western Silvicultural Contractors Association).


Planting 2013 forecasted as one of the largest since mid 90s.

Using the latest sowing request (SPAR) data for planting in 2013the WSCA is forecasting one of the largest seasons in years. Next year could see nearly 260 million seedlings planted - up from 237 million this year according to SPAR. The 2013 estimate is based on the number of seedlings already sown, combined with the historical trends for summer planting stock orders. Those 2013 summer planting requests are just now coming in, but over the last few years the Interior summer plant sowing has been around 40 million seedlings annually. Sowing requests for summer planting have also been increasing over the last few years along with the provincial total. If that trend is consistent, we could see an annual total approaching 260 million, the third largest since 1997. The other big years were 2006 and 2007; just before the crash hit the sector with planting ebbing as low as 165 million by 2010. 

With the spring planting numbers confirmed, the trends by region show the Northern Interior to be the prime beneficiary, increasing from 71 million to 82 million next spring. The Coast region is seeing a three million increase to 20 million seedlings for the spring. The South Interior is the only depressed trenddropping slightly from 102 million seedlings to 98 million next spring. Summer planting this year in those regions came in for the Coast at 8 million including this fall, the North Interior at 25 million, and the South Interior at around 12 million. 

Will there be enough planters?

The pair of big years in the last decade produced the only upward blip in rates paid to workers. Other than the short-lived 2007 five percent up-tick, piece rates continued their decline into 2011. This extends a discouraging downward trend of about 33 percent along with inflation since 2000. Figures for rates for 2012 are not available, but last year's 2011 exit poll asked workers to report their earnings per day. Besides the fact that the majority of the workers said they were underemployed needing up to another month of work, the figures reported showed half the industry's planters are earning less than $22 per hour for at least a ten hour work day. This places them at the very bottom for earnings in the resource sector. If there were planters working as United Steel workers, they would earn around $23 for an eight hour day and much lower production expectations. Mining wages start around $28.00 hour and the oil & gas sector begins around $35.00 per hour.

The WSCA is just now developing a human resource strategy for the silviculture sector thanks to government support through the Labour Market Partnership Program and the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, but it will be another year before that process can begin to reliably report out on the trends affecting our workforce. It will take just as long to come up with a recruitment and retention strategy for the sector, as well as guidelines and best practices for individual firms. Nevertheless, the anecdotal evidence suggests that getting the job done in 2012 pretty much tapped out the provincial planting capacity. There were no extra planters and in some cases there weren't enough. What may have saved the sector from wider default was the weather and the extension that added a couple of weeks to the spring plant into late June and early July. If we have reached peak capacity now, much depends on what the jet stream serves up next year, an El NiƱo year. Much also depends on whether workers think they are being treated well and paid what its worth to do actual hard work for a living. With the uncertainty around those two factors, there is a risk of a capacity crunch in 2013. 

Do the survey.

The volunteer working group in charge of developing a human resource strategy for the silviculture sector has sent out its annual survey for workers and employers. Please circulate the survey to your employees and urge them to answer the confidential poll. We also want to gauge the mood of the employers in the sector too and have added a special section. You can help by getting yourself and your workers to go to

The results of the survey will be made available after this year.   
Please help us spread the word by circulating this email to as many people as possible, including other contractors, coworkers, employees, suppliers, any other interested parties, etc.   

Western Silvicultural Contractors' Association
#720 - 999 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC   V5Z 1K5
Tel: (604) 736-8660      Fax: (604) 738-4080


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