In just one day, Leslie Dart planted an astonishing 4,545 trees in Saskatchewan during last year's planting season. Marching across a burnt, desolate landscape, she moved with precision and drove a small shovel into the ground, dropped a seedling, stomped to cover the hole, and moved on. A video of her work, which she uploaded to TikTok, has been viewed 8.7 million times.
Dart has planted a total of 372,290 trees in the time she spent working during her summer breaks from college, which is a truly mind-boggling feat. Her dedication is impressive, and she's not the only one who spends summers in Canada planting trees. British Columbia has strict regulations about reforestation, with logging companies required to plant trees each summer. And there are also regeneration efforts in place to counteract damage by wildfires.
Tree planting is a popular summer job for college students, who often earn between 13 and 27 cents per tree. For Dart, who just graduated and now works in the aerospace manufacturing industry, her summers planting trees were “incredibly rewarding.” Clearly, she worked very hard. Dart even reached her personal record working in 93-degree (Fahrenheit) heat—planting 5,415 trees that day.
“It could start the day off sunny and then minutes later, it will just be raining, torrential downpours, hailing or snowing. You never know what to expect,” she told Terrance Standard. “There were some days that we were planting through a heat wave, so we had like 37-to-40-degree [Celsius] weather for several days straight, and that was really difficult.”
According to the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, 1.6 billion trees have been planted in the province since 2017, with more than 200 million seedlings planted annually. They call it a “very large and important component” of forestry and use it as a tool to keep the environment healthy.
Many students, like Dart, work as tree planters during their summer vacations and then move on to full-time careers after graduation. But not everyone. Kenny Chaplin is a veteran who started tree planting when he was 18 years old. Thirty-five years later, he's still going strong. In 2001, he even set a Guinness World Record for the most trees planted in a day with 15,170. While that record fell last year, Chaplin remains a pioneer of the practice.
He also works as an assistant director and substitute teacher, but it's tree planting that has truly changed him as a person. He often finds himself visiting the forest he planted during his record-breaking day near Prince Albert in Saskatchewan.
“I can stand there and it’s really cool to walk into your forest,” he said. “The trees are 20 feet tall. They’re spaced exactly how you placed them and you can get back to that day when you planted them. It’s quite significant and empowering just as a human being.”
While the work is grueling and can be humbling, there's nothing quite like it. In fact, Dart hopes to carve out time to return to tree planting, calling it the “coolest office” that she's ever worked in.
“You just really have to be prepared for everything, be open-minded, roll with the punches,” she shares. “It just makes you a stronger person mentally and makes you more adaptable and ready to take on the world.”
Leslie Dart's video of her planting over 4,500 trees in a day had 8.7 million views on TikTok.
@lesliedart I planted 4,545 trees today Going to do it all again tomorrow, yeehaw! #treeplanting #forestry #replant #planttrees #greenplanet #afforestation #treeplantingbc #planttreesgetdegrees #womeninforestry #heliwork #treeplantertok #treeplantingtok #treeplanting2022 #treeplanter ♬ Get It Get It Get It – Kalin And Myles
Dart is one of an estimated 5,500 workers who plant trees around British Columbia annually.
@lesliedart It do be like that #treeplanting #forestry #replant #planttrees #greenplanet #afforestation #treeplantingbc #planttreesgetdegrees #womeninforestry #helicopter #heliwork #treeplantertok #treeplantingtok #treeplanting2022 #treeplanter #imaginedversusreality ♬ Hard Work – U.S. Drill Sergeant Field Recordings
Watch this incredible film about two world record-breaking tree planters.
h/t: [Terrance Standard]