ABOUT OUR INDUSTRY

Canada is the third most forested country in the world.

With over 347 million hectares of forest land (2020), of which approximately 60 million hectares are in BC, the forest sector continues to be important for BC’s economy.

Silviculture plays a crucial role in managing forests, impacting their composition, health, quality, and sustainability. While historically focused on timber harvesting, silviculture now encompasses a broader range of practices to promote sustainable management of wildlife habitat, ecosystem services, water sources, wildfire risk, restoration, and recreation areas.

The growing recognition of forests’ importance in combating climate change and maintaining ecosystem health has elevated reforestation objectives globally. A recent study suggests the potential for a 25% increase in forested areas worldwide. Countries like Canada are prioritizing reforestation to meet climate goals, with significant investments such as the $290 million Forest Carbon Initiative.

Canada ranks among the top nations in reforestation efforts, with initiatives targeting activities like reforestation, fertilization, and tree improvement. Additionally, managing wildfires and other forest disturbances remains a priority, especially with the anticipation of more extreme weather conditions. Governments are funding new initiatives to enhance wildfire management while fostering the development of a forest-based bioeconomy, as seen in British Columbia.

Profile

BC Silviculture Industry

THE SECTORS

Tree planting, including brushing and spacing, is the largest segment within the BC Silviculture Industry, although the majority of businesses within the industry are engaged in multiple sectors simultaneously.

Tree Planting

Nurseries

Consulting

Wildfire
Fighting

Other

LABOUR BY SECTOR

The BC silviculture industry consists of
a highly diverse group of businesses.

This means that there is a wide range of occupations within the industry. The most common position identified by the employers surveyed was tree planter. Other leading occupations are listed in the table on the right.

Position
Percentage
Tree Planter
55.4%
Silviculture Nursery Worker
12.8%
Crew leader
6.3%
Forestry Consultant
6.2%
Spacer or Brusher
5.2%
Wildfire Fighter
2.7%
Supervisor or Project Manager
2.4%
Cook
2.3%
Other field staff
2.1%
Administration staff
1.8%
Senior managers
1.5%
Other
1.3%

A majority of employees in the industry are employed seasonally.

The industry primarily employs nearly 90% seasonal workers. Only about 11% of peak staff are employed year-round. The proportion of year-round workers varies by position, ranging from almost all senior managers to two-thirds of administrative staff (65%) and half of supervisors or project managers (50%), down to very few wildfire fighters (11%) or tree planters (2%).

Due to the industry’s seasonality, employment levels experience significant fluctuations throughout the year, with over 10,000 individuals being employed during peak times.

Employment projections do not account for the BC Wildfire Services, which hires approximately 1,600 seasonal personnel, including firefighters, dispatchers, and other seasonal roles.

Position
Full Time
Peak Season Only
Tree Planter
46%
59%
Nursery Worker
17%
13%
Forestry Consultant
20%
10%
Spacer or Brusher
6%
8%
Wildfire Fighter
8%
6%
Other
2%
4%

A majority of employees in the industry are male.

Male workers comprise 59% of the workforce, while women account for 34%. Additionally, 5% of the workforce identify as Indigenous, and 2% are Temporary Foreign Workers. Moreover, 35% of seasonal workers employed in BC reside outside of the province during the off-season. However, there are some differences in the labour market characteristics across the sectors, as listed in the table on the right.

Sector
Gender Distribution
Age Distribution (Under 35)
Education
(University Degree)
Ethnic Diversity
Tree Planting
Male: 55%
Female: 40%
Non-binary: 3%
57%
41%
Visible Minority: 5%
Indigenous: 3%
Nurseries
Female: 51%
Male: 44%
Non-binary: 2%
Not specified
Not specified
Visible Minority: 7%
Indigenous: 9%
Consulting
Male: 62%
Female: 33%
Non-binary: 3%
57%
66%
Visible Minority: 1%
Indigenous: 4%
Wildfire Fighting
Male: 72%
Female: 26%
Non-binary: 2%
65%
Not specified
Visible Minority: 5%
Indigenous: 7%

REVENUE BY SECTOR

Financial Data
Amount
(in millions)
Silviculture Revenues
$317.5
Wages Expenditures
$185.7
Training & Education Expenditures
$9.7
Other Goods and Services Expenditures
$73.6

Silviculture organizations in BC amassed an estimated $550 million in revenues in 2020.

In the same year, the industry disbursed $291 million in wages, calculated based on full-time employments. Refer to the adjacent table for comprehensive revenue and wage data.

GROWTH BY SECTOR

The anticipated growth of the BC silviculture sector is primarily attributed to the increased number of established employers, rather than the influx of new businesses into the industry.

Over the last five years, employers have seen a noteworthy 18.1% increase in the number of full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), equating to an average annual growth rate of 3.4%. Looking ahead, projections indicate a continuation of this trend, with an anticipated 16.5% rise in FTEs over the next five years, averaging at 3.1% annually.

Sector
Projected Growth Rate
(2021-2025)
Factors Affecting Growth
Tree Planting
2.2%
Increased seedling demand resulting from higher average yearly number of trees planted
Nurseries
2.7%
Increased seedling demand resulting from higher average yearly number of trees planted
Consulting
8.0%
- Trend towards more active management of forests
- Broadening of the range of products and services offered
- Increased market share
Wildfire Fighting
9.5%
Managing wildfires and other forest disturbances as a government priority

Overall, the optimism about future economic prospects is linked to factors such as increased public awareness of climate change, recognition of forests’ importance in fighting climate change, and the critical role of effective forest management in ecosystem health. Continued government support for reforestation and the prioritization of managing wildfires and forest disturbances underscore growth potential. However, uncertainties stemming from unpredictable government policies, rising debt, climate change impacts, and economic conditions contribute to an uncertain long-term outlook. Shifting forest management policies and greater involvement of First Nations communities are expected to influence future demand.

This summary encapsulates key insights from the Labour Market Strategy for the Silviculture Industry, January 13, 2022 edition. This is a publication by Qatalyst Research Group in collaboration with WFCA, the Government of Canada, and the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training under the Sector Labour Market Partnership (SLMP) Labour Market Development Agreement.

 

To find out more about the sources, methodology and scope of this summary, please download the report here.