More than 1,500 tree planters are preparing to travel west to reforest the interior of British Columbia.

British Columbia
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According to a forest safety specialist, there were no COVID-19 cases or outbreaks among tree planters in B.C. last summer.

In the next two weeks, more than 1,500 tree planters from Quebec and Ontario will fly across the country to the B.C. Interior to assist in the planting of millions of seedlings in the midst of a pandemic.

They’ll join tens of thousands of B.C. planters who are gearing up to work on a massive provincial reforestation project this summer, which will see more than 300 million seedlings planted throughout the province.

The government’s effort to replace lost trees to reduce wildfire damage and combat the effects of climate change began well before the pandemic.

“It’s considered an important step to preserving stability in the global supply of pulp and paper,” said Jordan Tesluk, the B.C. forestry protection advocate who coordinates COVID-19 mitigation strategies for silviculture in the province.

A similar major reforestation project in British Columbia was postponed and nearly canceled last year due to community fears that tree planters might carry COVID-19 to rural communities.

There was not a single COVID-19 case after B.C. officials gave their approval, according to Tesluk. According to Tesluk, tree planters migrating to B.C. forests during the pandemic are no different than tradespeople flying in and out of the province’s industrial megaprojects.

The difference, he claims, is that the forestry industry has done a much better job of keeping its employees safe.