Not So Clear Cut
Transforming Gender-based Violence in British Columbia’s Tree Planting Industry
Keywords:employment, forestry, LGBT[Q ], women
Despite the mounting scale of reforestation work in response to extensive deforestation and accelerating climate change, the tree planting industry in British Columbia is under-regulated and understudied. Industry leaders admit that prevalent and pervasive sexism is an issue, and recent reporting has indicated that widespread sexual assault and harassment are endemic to the field. A feminist analysis of the gendered power dynamics of tree planting is necessary in order to understand how these harms might be remedied. Through semi-structured interviews with industry actors, particularly with women and gender-diverse tree planters who have experienced gender-based violence in BC planting camps, our research investigates various solutions proposed by research participants, demonstrating how listening to survivors can help shape environments that are freer from harm. The primary solutions offered by interviewees were: (1) the development of company anti-violence policies and procedural follow-through; (2) an intentional increase in gender representation among industry leadership; and (3) increased anti-oppression training for all, but especially for management. Company-level solutions were experienced as the most straightforward place to begin imagining change, as this change and its impacts could be immediate and significant for the survivors with whom we spoke as well as for future planters. Despite this, it is difficult to imagine robust solutions happening voluntarily across all tree planting companies without external oversight. We hope that future research will investigate how regulatory incentives or government interventions might increase company accountability and solutions-implementation in a manner that is sensitive to the industry’s unique labour conditions.