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Careers in Forest Health: Ernie Demuth Explains the Value of Tree Marker Training

Posted: August 13, 2020

By: Noah Page

Forests Ontario and the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF) offer three levels of tree marking certificate courses. As detailed in our previous article, a tree marking certificate can benefit anyone looking to find employment in the central or southern Ontario forest sector. We spoke with Ernie Demuth, Registered Professional Forester, about how his certificate helped him build his career.

Ernie began tree marking 15 years ago and credits his training with many of the forestry work opportunities he’s found throughout his career. His certificate allows him to carry out silvicultural tree marking on Crown land, and is also a definite advantage in managing private land forests in many municipalities. The courses teach forest workers the art and science of tree marking and allow them to learn from experienced tree markers in both the forest and the classroom. 

Before taking the course, Ernie says it’s important for students to have a solid ability to identify tree species and a basic understanding of silvicultural systems like Selection and Shelterwood. After they complete the course, each student must gain some practical field experience and then pass a field audit before they can receive their certificate. The auditor measures the skill and quality of the student’s work and their ability to follow the assigned tree-marking prescription. Details of the prescription will include the overall silvicultural objective of the harvest, and whether the trees will be marked orange for removal or blue for retention. The tree marking audit looks at tree choices, spacing, ability to meet the basal area target, and paint application. Once someone obtains their certificate and begins working in the field, their knowledge becomes increasingly intuitive over time. They’ll know which trees to target and how to achieve the prescription objectives for the bush they’re marking.

On a typical day of tree marking, Ernie is usually out in the bush by 9 a.m. He tries to mark five hectares a day over a six-hour shift, but this can vary. Ernie believes that it is more important to be thorough than to cover as much ground as possible. Increased productivity comes with additional experience and confidence.  Tree marking in the bush has given him the chance to see a lot of wildlife, such as elk and golden eagles. He once climbed a tree to escape a moose, but has been lucky enough to never run into any bears.

For more information on the tree marking courses, please visit the official Ontario Tree Marking Website.