Tree Marker Profile: Jordan MacMillan
Posted: August 1, 2019
Tree marking involves the careful selection of trees for harvest, based upon a forest management prescription. In order to mark trees on Crown land in Ontario, a certification is required. The individuals who hold this certification are known as ‘Tree Markers.’
In order to get a better sense of what tree marking entails, Forests Ontario interviewed a series of tree markers across the province.
Technical Extension Forester for the Canadian Institute of Forestry
Tree markers are consistently in-demand in Ontario. This sometimes-overlooked career path gives forestry-oriented individuals the gifts of being on tight-knit teams and working outdoors, according to Jordan MacMillan, Technical Extension Forester for the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF).
Forests Ontario’s Communications Specialist, MJ Kettleborough, chatted with Jordan about how he got certified as a tree marker and his experiences in that career and beyond.
When did you take the Tree Marking Course?
I took the Level 1 course in 2014. I was a Forestry student at Algonquin College at the time and I had the opportunity to challenge the provincial exam through my school. you can also challenge the exam through Fleming College and Sault College. I went back and completed the Level 2 Auditor course in 2017.
Did you end up using the skills you learned?
I did! I worked as a Tree Maker and then as a Crew Boss for the Algonquin Forestry Authority, and in my current role at the CIF, I still am heavily involved in the Tree Marking program and help to coordinate and deliver Level 1 and 2 courses in Ontario.
What was a typical day like for you when you were a tree marker?
The crew I was on would either meet at the office in the morning, or we would live in remote camps in Algonquin Park during the work week. We would be provided with a silvicultural prescription that was written by a Registered Professional Forester and then we would go about applying it to the forest we were working in.
When marking individual trees for retention or removal, I would be identifying key wetland and habitat features and applying reserves as necessary to protect the habitat. If there was a specific habitat, such as a stick nest, I would have to identify it – the type of bird that created it, if it was active or not, etc. Based on that information I would have to put a ‘reserve’ around the tree with the nest (a radius of so many meters) and then no trees would be marked within that area.
What was your favourite part of the job?
It was amazing getting to live in Algonquin Park! And just being outside in general was probably the best part of it for me. I also loved the social atmosphere of working with a crew. At the end of a long day, we would have a barbeque, swim and hang out.
I also appreciated that the physicality of the job kept me fit.
What was your least favourite part of the job?
The weather. Definitely the weather! You do have to work through heat and cold and windy conditions, though work would be cancelled if conditions were unsafe.
Who would you recommend this career to?
I’d recommend tree marking to someone who is a hard worker and loves the outdoors! Also, if you’re going to be part of a crew, you need to be a team player (though some tree markers do work alone).
Also, if someone is a Forestry student, I would highly recommend that they try tree marking, you get to utilize and perfect all of the skills that you learned in school, such as tree identification, understanding silviculture systems, habitat identification and bush navigation to name a few.
Have you had any crazy wildlife experiences?
Nothing too crazy, we would see wildlife such a bears and moose travelling the roads to our stand, though I did have a wolf circle me one time! I should mention that they do give you ‘bear awareness’ training as well.
What do you do for work these days?
I am a Technical Extension Forester for the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF) and I am also a part of the Ontario Tree Marking Instructor Committee.
In my current role at CIF I benefit from my tree marker training in that you get to understand silvicultural systems very well.
Interested in tree marking? Certification through the Tree Marker Training Program is necessary to become a tree marker in Ontario. This tri-level program is delivered by Forests Ontario and CIF. For more information, please visit https://treemarking.com/.