Edit: May I thank everyone for this awesome IAMA experience! You've all inspired me! If you have still questions, please go ahead.

Hey all,

I've been treeplanting as a living for the last 7 years in British-Columbia and Alberta (started in 2004 at aged 19). I have a simple, yet, very fulfilling life. Treeplanting may sound hard to some people, but it's definitely the best job out there. I have seen it all, to the dirtiest hippy to the most remote locations in British-Columbia. It has now became a great lifestyle! Pushing all limits and of course I learnt a lot about myself.

I'm writing this post as I am nostalgic today. I might not return for this passion of mine, first time in 7 years. I am joining another project this summer. I am sad and happy to have planted more than 3 quarter of a million tree. This is my way to give back to Mother Nature, meet the most energetic people, create life-friendships and live in the most remote regions of BC.

this is me last summer

Also you can meet my team. I love you all!!!. I pay tribute to all people who do their parts for Mother Nature, whatever passion you follow.


Edit: Thanks for all your questions/feedbacks. I will try to answer everyone

Edit: Have a look for yourself of what we do. Friend's good video on treeplanting (try to spot me)

Edit: For those who don't believe me. It's alright. But let me point out that we plant average 2000/3000 seedlings a day in the planting season (april to late july). I did that for 7 years.

Edit: keep in touch on twitter

Comments: 1459 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

raptorraptor367 karma

You should cross-post a link to this in /r/trees

Zeppelanoid216 karma

That's funny because from what I've heard, tree-planters spend most of their day planting trees, and the rest of their day getting high as fuck.

mcaissy212 karma

Some do. Not in my team usually, we are pretty hard worker and yes we know how to relax differently

CannedBeef247 karma

Wood you elaborate on that?

mcaissy67 karma

There is some banging here and there. I mostly sleep, eat lots of good food, drink, listen to my friends play music, and sleep again to plant more trees the next day.

kitty_bacon23 karma

Some banging?! Hey, i've known many treeplanters, girls and boys, and they all taked about the amazing amounts of screwing.

mcaissy51 karma

Lol, well I was being modest.


Some do.

I didn't when I realized I made more money while sober.

furtiveraccoon15 karma

I think i'm going to need some factual research from you, mr...

mcaissy8 karma

Of course, what do you need?

furtiveraccoon9 karma

You... you know I was making a joke to BASELESS_SPECULATION, right? ;)

If you did: "i dunno, just something doesn't seem right with that statement"

If you didn't: I believe you and wasn't asking you for anything. Also, I think that tree-planting is a kickass thing to do

mcaissy5 karma

I think that tree-planting is a kickass thing to do.

Sure is!

mcaissy18 karma


hoobsher94 karma

sorry, do you mean you've planted 3/4 million TREES or SEEDS?

mcaissy200 karma

Trees. Seedling about 20 cm in height.

Jigsus36 karma

What happens if you just spread seeds?

mcaissy452 karma

seeds are for pussy. They will grow I guess if they are not eaten by the squirrels and washed out by wind, water...

bigpenisdragonslayer26 karma

Lol, why do you not pluralize anything? So far I've seen pussy, tree, and worker, and I just started reading this.

Dax42076 karma

I'm going to guess he is French-Canadian.

mcaissy77 karma

Yup! I am a French-Canadian. Sorry for grammar. I still successfully went to UBC thought :)

bitethemuffin28 karma


WailingFungus28 karma

How long on average does it take to plant a single tree?

I ask because 750,000 in 7 years would be a little under one every two minutes if you worked 12 hours every day. That seems very quick to me, do you use mechanical (powered) tools to achieve a rapid speed?

mcaissy70 karma

A tree can be planted under 5 sec. We work for about 10h-12h a day. And if you take very little break you achieve good numbers.

No, the only tool is the extension of our hand: the shovel!


Do you need a lot of physical fitness, did you eat a lot to sustain long highly active shifts? Hows your back?

[deleted]22 karma

As a fellow PNWer who burned slash and fought forest fires for a season long ago, tree planters (in the summer, tree planters often fight fire) hike up and down vertical terrain all goddamn day, every goddamn day. Fighting fire is a kind of summer vacation for these guys: so much time sitting around and tending little fires in front of their faces and making fun of the students who want to die from all the forced marching.

mcaissy19 karma

Sweet. I agree that firefighting is a nice holiday.

mcaissy3 karma

Good fitness always helped for sure.. It's weird because my back is fine, but my right wrist in which I hold my shovel is a bit destroyed.

Other than that, you need to eat a bit every bag up, so every hour or so quickly eat and rehydrate to keep an active day.


My best day was 4250.

I was moving quickly.

edit: I should add that while that might sound impressive, there are much, much higher single-day numbers out there, and I had great land, and a million other caveats that I'd like to add.

mcaissy29 karma

Sweet, where was that? Some locations are much easier than other as we all know!


Ontario, so a joke to you.

I only did one year; had an offer from a crew out west that I was going to join, then tore my ACL during an unrelated activity and ended up in rehab instead. Got a full-time gig after that and... here I am, full-time desk jockey.

Every year around now I troll planting forums and company websites out of nostalgia/irrational impulse so your AMA couldn't have come at a worse/better time hahaha.

mcaissy9 karma

I should try to plant in Ontario/Quebec. I have never to date. I prefer the mountains I guess.

inkabinka2368 karma

Do you work for the government or a agency. How does that work.
I'm jealous.

mcaissy106 karma


We work for reforestation companies. Some are governmental, but most are private. There are tons of companies out there. I worked for celtic reforestation

ChipSmash55 karma

I worked for Celtic for 5 years. We probably planted in the same camp, at least once.

no-mad13 karma

I have talked with some tree planters in Cali. They said they plant a lot of areas more then once. Ground temps are to hot without the filtered light of the the forest. Tree companies then claim to plant way more then they ever cut.

mcaissy21 karma

True. That happens also in BC. I have planted some area twice or 3 times. It sucks when you replant an area where your trees burnt or died the previous growing season.

[deleted]60 karma

Questions from a BC vet of 4 years.

  1. How do you reconcile yourself to the fact that you are the lowest-paid, hardest-working member of the production team that turns a seed into pulp product?

2.How do you reconcile the extreme wear and tear on your body and all-weather working conditions with no real job related health coverage or benefits, other than fresh mountain air (no sarcasm), and no job security or price guarantee other than the strength of the softwood lumber market?

3.How can you justify working so long in an industry that provides you with little to no life skills if you don't become a foreman? (are you pursuing an expensive yet meaningful education or business during the winter, and not just EI like the rest of my lowlife friends--I still love em)

4.When you see the failed 'forest management strategies' and their results (millions of hectares of monocultured plantations among equal millions of standing dead timber--all pine, all either current or future edibles for the mountain pine beetle), how do you convince yourself what you are doing is good for the planet? (unless you accept that it is not, and are ok with that)

I've been there and done that for a fuckin long time too and I think it's really messed up. I'm very much interested in your honest answers to these questions

EDIT: for clarity. Also I assure you these are honest questions (in relation to the comment this post garnered)

[deleted]25 karma


[deleted]10 karma

hey hey you're right I forgot to number them. And you're right the wording of my questions indicates my stance on the industry/job. But this guy's been doing it for 7 years and loves it. I want to know why, when there are serious problems with the job.

No I'm glad I went treeplanting. I learned a lot about myself, how to be strong and how to work hard. I made some really strong friendships, and I had some abso-fucking-lutely unreal times trekking around the province in-between contracts. I saw things I never would've seen otherwise. There's value in it and I would never say otherwise. Why do you think you know what I want. You know what I want man? Another planter's [positive] perspective to go with my own.

And I did have reservations about it before I started, and every subsequent year. My parents planted in the 80s; I knew what to expect. I stopped going when I noticed how truly unforgiving the injury rate was. Don't assume you know shit you don't.

EDIT: if it was somehow possible, I would get rid of all the world's soldiers. Sadly, it isn't.

mcaissy17 karma

No I'm glad I went treeplanting. I learned a lot about myself, how to be strong and how to work hard. I made some really strong friendships, and I had some abso-fucking-lutely unreal times trekking around the province in-between contracts.

Thats the reason I do it too.

Ignatius_is_fat54 karma

What kind of trees did you plant?

mcaissy83 karma

We plan only conifers: douglas fir, logepole pine, white pine, hemlock, cedar (love it!) and sitka spruce

Blu3j4y76 karma

The Larch?

mcaissy36 karma

Yeah a bit, I forgot about the larch. I don't like it though, it looses its needle all the time!

insaneHoshi37 karma

Do they actually recomend that, for female treeplanters, not to have children for a couple years due to the amount of fertalizers contained within the baby trees?

Can you elaborate on what happens when someone buries all their saplings instead of planting them?

How much money have you made?

How are you treated by management?

Any good Stories?

mcaissy42 karma

Do they actually recomend that, for female treeplanters, not to have children for a couple years due to the amount of fertalizers contained within the baby trees?

Never heard that. Maybe those mom shouldn't feed to their child any trees. They are full of pesticides.

How are you treated by management?

The supervisor / foreman are our friends. We are treated pretty good!

Any good Stories?

Quick story. I once lost my shovel in the slash (piles of debris). It was my rookie year, so I didn't know what I was doing. Instead of going around the pile, I went over, on top and just lost my shovel. It went so deep that I never found it again. I had to go back to the truck to get another one, but only to realize there were no spared shovel. I lost a lot of time that day.

Quick story At the end of contracts, sometime people do crazy stuff. I've seen naked muddy planter plant trees and do some bear sounds.

mcaissy34 karma

It is very honest work. Those who cheat and stashes trees, you can easily recognized them.

Once an entire crew we worked with a mini short contract in Alberta got caught stashing about 10-15 boxes of trees in a burn pile (so that they burn in the future). They tough nobody will come back.

I've had a very cool supervisor who could easily recognized that kind of behavior from far away. So he did, he spotted the burn pile with thousands of trees not planted on this crew block. These people didn't last long, and never came back. That was just a nice show at the camp seeing the rage! I think he buried two planters that day.

FlyingSandwich8 karma

I think he buried two planters that day.

He...killed them?

mcaissy16 karma

I wish. But no. These guys suck. It's real bad karma, trust me.

cardern11 karma

We here at reddit know a thing or two about karma.

mcaissy3 karma

Glad to have you on my side!

Wilawah30 karma

Are you a squirrel?

mcaissy7 karma

No I tame them

ike78924 karma

are you vegan/vegetarian?

mcaissy27 karma

I am vegetarian by season. Yes I know, it's lame. So I would say it's on and off. You need to be very creative to get good proteins when you only eat veggies for that kind of work.

DrDragun24 karma

A very specific type of vegetarian that dines on recently planted saplings only.

mcaissy15 karma

LOl, that made me laugh. You don't want to eat those saplings, they are full of pesticide. Hmmmm yummy!

nervrom17 karma

Re: your giving back to Mother Nature. don't the trees you plant just get cut down ?

SuckMuffin58 karma

Not to hijack, but as a fellow planter this question bothers me. Our aim is not to "fix" the forest. We depend on the forestry industry; without it we're out of a job.

mcaissy38 karma

Ya I know, it's a job after all. Everybody has their reasons. Some "fix", some don't. I think Im in betwwen.


Don't forget the 85 or so years of greenery that you've provided :)

I on the other hand picked up a saw when planting season was over XD

mcaissy8 karma

Very true!

mcaissy40 karma

True. I would say 9 of 10 trees yes. I worked in community-owned forest where they won't cut. We just reforest, and let Nature redo it's best.

[deleted]17 karma


mcaissy103 karma

Hell no. We are paid by trees. The more you put in the ground, the higher you get paid. It's very motivating

[deleted]58 karma


mcaissy46 karma

Thanks! I know. It's pretty sick when you write down the number.

ashamanflinn13 karma

How much per tree?

mcaissy29 karma

Oh it depends on the ground, the company and the location. In average it is 16-20 cent per tree in Kamloops area, 30 cent on the coast of BC and Alberta is 11-16 cent (Yuck!)

Fennder12 karma

How much (on average) did you make a year?

unantimatter26 karma

Going by the numbers he has provided (worked for 7 years, planted 750,000 trees, and at a price between $0.11 and $0.30 per tree) he made somewhere between $11,785 and $32,143 per year.

And that just during the planting season.

mcaissy5 karma

A good year you can average $32,143. That is very rewarding and you feel like a hero.

egotripping4 karma

How many trees can you plant in an hour?

mcaissy8 karma

We count in bag up, well I do. If I'm lucky, two bagups per hour. One bagup can fill between 200-300 trees. I bag up light to move faster!!

druse16 karma

Do you have hope for the future? (Do you think global warming can be reversed?)

mcaissy13 karma

Yes I see hope everywhere I go. Especially when you go back to your old trees and see them successfully grown in a community forest or with a company that does honorable (sustainable) forestry. That is a cool feeling.

_rand_mcnally_8 karma

Tell us about the dirtiest of the dirtiest hippies!!!!!! I've only ever planted 1000 trees with Trees for Canada as a kid, so way to be!

Edit - If anyone has any good dirty hippie stories I'd love to hear them.

mcaissy12 karma

There is this guy that looks like a living pizza with the longest beard in the company. I will try to find a pic.

i_eat_catnip6 karma

As someone who enjoys oxygen, thank you.

mcaissy3 karma

thanks! I love oxygen!

jrl54324 karma

Hey mcaissy. Thanks for doing this AMA. I have a couple of questions about the job:

1) I hear that tree planting is one of the toughest jobs and has a high injury rate. I hear that as much as 80% of all planters experience bad injuries, especially repeated motion injuries and hand/finger injuries. Are the reports true? If so, how do you avoid injuring yourself and keeping your body in good condition?

2) How are the living conditions? Do you stay more often in hotels/at home? In tents or company provided camps?

3) I hear that the pay is based on the amount of trees you can plant. How many trees can you plant in an hour? Is there a special technique for planting trees quickly?

mcaissy3 karma

1) There is considerable amount of injuries, but I wouldn't say this much. Maybe around 10-15% because our body get used to the conditions. I myself have a wrist defect now.

2) Living conditions are very great if your company is well organized. Here at Celtics, the camps are always up to date and we have great cooks!. So we sleep in campers or tents, but I also lived in motels many times.

3) like twonines

Trees per hour depends on the land. A good guideline is to do around one bag up per hour, which is anything from 200-500 depending on the land/tree size/planter. There are a lot of different techniques for speed, every planter really has their own personal style. Everything from how you make your holes, to how you back up, to if you where gloves or duct-tape your fingers. Every planter is different.

Dragaan3 karma

Plan on bringing any future children around the country, and going;

"This one, and this one, and this one, also this one, and those over there..." ?

mcaissy3 karma

For sure. And all of those! Wait you mean the trees, or the kids?

fatcop3 karma


mcaissy3 karma