11 million trees and shrubs now planted at Syncrude sites

Since reclamation began at Syncrude, more than 11 million trees and shrubs have now been planted at reclamation sites.

This year alone, more than one million trees and shrubs were planted which led to reaching that record.

Despite the challenges the season presented with a global pandemic hampering work in various areas and industries, the program had to continue, says Syncrude’s vegetation specialist Eric Girard.

To continue reclamation is the right thing to do.

– eric girard

“It was tough to do this work during the pandemic, however safety has always been a top priority at Syncrude and we had the protocols in place to ensure everyone’s health and safety. While some activities were stood down to maintain health and safety protocols, tree planting activities were able to continue because physical distancing was not a challenge.”  

Tree planting began May 20 with 22 people working on the program, 16 of whom were tree planters and the rest support crews who supervised and transported trees to various spots located north of the Syncrude’s North Mine. Towards the end of the season, the tree planting crew grew to about 30 to ensure that the program was finished by June 21.

Summer sends a message to plants that the growing season has an end. It was important for us to complete the planting by that date.

– Eric Girard

“As we enter July, the trees and shrubs should be actively growing or it may become challenging for them to come to life and survive. We need to give them a chance and the sooner we plant them, the better. The plants need time to get out of dormancy, grow roots and leaves, grow new buds, seal them, and be ready with reserves for the upcoming winter. They need time to go through the different phases of growth.”

More than 400 hectares were planted this year and the remaining area placed with soils are planned to be covered in the spring of 2021.

Balsam Poplar, trembling aspen, white birch, jackpine and white spruce were among the species of trees planted this year while the shrubs consisted of green alder, river alder, red osier dogwood, rat root, Saskatoon, buffaloberry, honeysuckle, willows, roses, Labrador tea, bog birch, snowberry, pin cherries, lingonberry, twinflowers, crowberries, sedges, Low bush cranberries, blueberry and hazelnuts.

As in previous years, Little Smokey Forestry Services provided professional tree planters and the required support to make the 2020 program a success despite the unique season.  

This year the team successfully completed around 9,000 workforce hours safely.

We are very proud we were able to complete the tree planting program this year with zero injuries.

– Ryan Pozzi

Even though it is very rough terrain and the work is highly physical, the tree planters did a great job working safe”, says Pozzi, Production Day Supervisor for the Environmental and Fluid Transfer Team which is responsible for the safe operations and completion of the tree planting program.

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