Urban forestry is a broad term that applies to trees and forests in the urban environment. An urban forest can be a park like Stanley park. It can require specialist service, such as advice or direction of a forest professional who would be engaged in the practice of professional forestry.

Source: Association of BC Forest Professionals

Job titles may vary by organizations.


An Arborist maintains trees and shrubs to protect roadways, power lines, and sidewalks. It involves the use of specialized climbing and rigging techniques. The Arboriculture Trade includes three distinct and progressive Certificates of Qualification. The three are; Arborist Technician, Climbing Arborist and Field Arborist

Source: HortEdu

Arborist Specializations

Arborist Technician

An “Arborist Technician” is a person who undertakes to prune and perform other work on trees from the ground. In their work Arborist Technicians identify plants, select rigging gear, and have knowledge of how to fall, limb and buck trees, assist climbers, chip brush, cut wood and clean-up sites after tree care operations. – itaBC

Climbing Arborist

A “Climbing Arborist “is a certified tradesperson who cares for and maintains trees and other woody shrubs. Climbing Arborists perform tasks such as tree risk assessments, pruning and removal of trees. In their work they use both climbing and aerial lift devices, rope and rope-tools for rigging. They also identify and remediate mechanical injuries, damage, other abiotic tree disorders, and common root and crown disorders – itaBC

Field Arborist

A “Field Arborist” is a certified tradesperson who prunes and performs other work of Climbing Arborists on trees from a ground and aerial situation, including climbing and aerial bucket work. In addition, Field Arborists develop and implement Integrated Pest Management and Plant Health Care plans, develop tree preservation strategies, inspect sites and trees for damage and hazards, perform job estimating, tree inventories, and tree appraisals. They also prepare reports in the technical areas described above and perform supervisory duties. – itaBC

Utility Arborist

A “Utility Arborist” undertakes any work required to prune or clear vegetation in proximity* to energized electrical equipment, structures and conductors or who in the course of utility line clearing operations, prunes, falls or removes trees which could come into contact with energized power lines. (*Proximity is defined as a distance of three meters or less from a primary conductor with a voltage of 750 volts or greater.) – itaBC

Salary Range

Average hourly salary: is $27.33 per hour in British Columbia, which is 14% above the national average.

Source: indeed


Climbing Arborist Krista Strating climbs trees with a chainsaw in Mississauga, Ont.

I’m Ralph Nevill. I’ve worked as an Arborist with the District of North Vancouver for the past seven years. Here is my story…

QWhat do you love about your job?

A: I get to be outdoors while still being able to live in an urban setting. You get to see nature in action as part of your work every day. There is also a mix of routine and the unexpected – like a hazard tree coming down to spice things up now and then.

QHow did you come to decide to pursue a career in this occupation?

A: A series of unintended consequences – I did not plan to become an arborist!

QWhat are good traits or skills that someone should have when considering this career?

A: There are a limited number of municipal positions out there plus you really need a combination of an Agriculture/Forestry background together with a good working knowledge of how to do tree work. The minimum a tech degree in forestry, but a University degree would be even better.  A larger tree company such as Davey Tree Experts/ Bartlett Tree Experts or Asplundh would be better than a small company because of the diversity of work offered and the potential for managerial experience.

QWhat advice would you give someone considering a career in the Parks Sector?

A: Parks work is very diversified – from turf management, gardening, arboriculture, natural areas management, parks planning, etc. Try to get a summer job in a park so that you get a feel for the work place

QDo you have any hiring practices tips to share?

A: Just general job interview skills: be prepared, try to find out what the issues are for the park / municipality you would be working with, be enthusiastic at the interview, etc.

Required Skills, Training and Education

Education and Experience

  • a valid BC Pesticide Applicator’s Certificate;
  • a Diploma in arboriculture or horticulture
  • at least two years experience in the arboriculture field or a combination of five years experience in the arboriculture field supplemented by Arborist Certifications
  • an I.S.A. Certified Tree Risk Assessor certificate;


  • a valid B.C. Class 5 driver’s license with air endorsement

Apprenticeship Programs

  • www.HortEdu.ca
  • www.itaBC.ca

Biodiversity Conservation Planner

This position focuses on environmental planning, habitat restoration, citizen science monitoring and a host of other roles relating to conservation, planning, monitoring and public engagement. Biodiversity Conservation Planners typically work closely with Parks Planning, Engineering and Planning and Development Departments.

Reporting is typically to a municipality’s Urban Forestry or Park Planning Manager, This is a complex, professional position requiring considerable expertise to lead the cross-departmental implementation of a City’s policies and strategies relating to biodiversity conservation. Successful candidates for this role provide leadership, advice and direction to staff and external agents, participate in reviewing capital infrastructure and park development projects, and land development applications, in the context of bylaws, regulations and other policies across various levels of government.

Common Job Title:

  • Conservation Planner
  • Environmental Planner

Typical Job Responsibilities

  • Have expertise in regards to environmental regulations to coordinate and lead the implementation of the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy in conjunction with capital and operational maintenance programs carried out by various City Departments.
  • Prepare, review, analyze and process complex technical reports related to capital infrastructure projects, development applications and environmental restoration plans.
  • Liaise with other departments, consultants, municipalities, government agencies, and community and environmental groups.
  • Participate on team task forces and committees, and provide guidance and training to staff and external agents.
  • Make presentations to the public and technical committees on environmental reports in relation to policies, bylaws, land-use plans and the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy implementation.
  • Perform other duties as required.

Salary Range

Starting Salary: $52 per hour (2020 rate)


Biodiversity Conservation Planner – Pamela Zevit, City of Surrey

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to this profession?

A: I am a Registered Professional Biologist, with a particular focus on conservation biology, sort of a ‘buffet’ applied biology discipline that looks at the best approaches for protecting biological diversity, rare and common species, and how our (human) species’ needs and actions all fit together. I was always a bit if a biology/nature nerd from childhood (and proud of that!) but I did not pursue the biological sciences outright after high school. It wasn’t until after I finished university and was out in the workforce that I realized I had a passionate interest in what was happening to our biosphere. By then I had moved to BC and looked at what post-secondary programs could help me transition into an environmental science path. I ended up going to BCIT taking the 2-year Fish and Wildlife Program. After I graduated, I worked for the Province of BC as a Conservation Planner, then a number of years for a conservation non-profit working on species at risk. I started in my present role as Surrey’s Biodiversity Conservation Planner in March 2019.

Q: What does a day in your life on the job look like?

A: The Environmental Planner classification in Surrey Parks covers very diverse activities. While I call the Urban Forestry section home, my position collaborates and liaises across city departments

The core focus of the position is to implement and deliver on the goals and objectives of the City’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. On any given day I may be involved in a number of tasks and activities including:

  • Investigating the diversity of plant and animal species and ecological conditions across the City
  • Overseeing our evolving citizen science program to engage the community to help us understand how well biodiversity is doing in the City
  • Providing expertise and guidance on land use planning, environmental assessments, and policy development.
  • Assisting in the development of habitat restoration or enhancement plans.
  • Engaging with residents, business and industry interests on biodiversity conservation issues and actions.

Q: What is your favorite aspect about your job?

A: Working on collaborative actions that enhance our ability and understanding on how to conserve the natural world, then seeing how that contributes to society taking a greater interest in and caring for our natural capital.

Q: What are the reasons people would work in this field?

A: I think most biology professionals do what we do because we want to make a difference in how our species values and interacts with the natural world. The position offers a range of opportunities to apply skills and expertise in conservation, environmental monitoring and understand and contribute to the use of conservation science principles in decision making and land use planning.

Q: What would you say the most difficult thing about your job is?

A: Knowing that budgets are limited and that many decisions may ultimately be made at a higher level, issues which are often beyond your control.

Q: What are good traits or skills that someone should have when considering this career?

A: Ultimately this position is all about working with people (human beings). You need to have good empathy and communication skills and be able to understand a range of world views and value systems around nature. That is only part of the equation, you need to be very organized and stay current in the science, regulations and policies, as well as the professional obligations that define you as a biology professional.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in entering this role?

A: Take the time to gain experience in conservation – and working with people. Know that this sort of position is not static, it needs to evolve just like the science it is based on. You are going to be dealing with a diversity of (sometimes opposing) viewpoints and unexpected changes and differing priorities at higher levels that will affect what you are working on. You need to be flexible and adaptive and keep an open, and informed mind.

Required Skills, Training and Education

Education and Certification

  • Competition of a University degree from a recognized post-secondary institution in a related discipline and a minimum of eight (8) years’ experience. An equivalent combination of education and experience may be considered.
  • Be registered as a Professional Biologist (R.P.Bio.).

Experience and Skills

  • Directly related experience with a municipality or other public sector organization is considered an asset.
  • Have a valid and unrestricted driver’s license with a safe driving record.

Natural Area Practitioner

This position is responsible for performing manual and semi-skilled tasks involving considerable physical effort in maintaining, renovating and constructing natural areas.

Responsibilities include applying natural area landscape management techniques and practices; providing supervision for junior staff in Park Division work, which may include brushing, watering, pesticide application, pruning, invasive plant removal, trail maintenance and renovation, plant installation and tree condition assessments; scheduling, training and reviewing work for junior staff; responding to inquiries from the public; preparing reports and maintaining records; assisting other crew members with performing their duties; performing other related duties as required.

Required Skills, Training and Education

Education and Training

  • Completed grade 12, supplemented by successful completion of five additional relevant courses from an approved post-secondary education institution in any of the following course areas: Biology; Urban Land Management; Ecology; Conservation; Wildlife Management;
  • A minimum of 2 years of recent experience in the management of natural areas.


  • Completion of Grade 12 and a Technical Certificate Program (one year full-time) from an approved post-secondary institution, supplemented by 18 months of recent experience in the management of natural areas.


  • Completion of a diploma program from an approved post-secondary institution, with a minimum of 6 months recent experience in the management of natural areas.
  • A valid BC driver’s license and a B.C. Pesticide Applicator’s Certificate


  • Experience supervising staff and strong leadership skills.
  • Experience performing manual labour.
  • Experience with power tools (brush saw, hedge trimmer, backpack blowers, chainsaw) and hand tools (shovels, picks, hand snips, loppers, hand saws).
  • Demonstrate ability to identify native and invasive plants.
  • Possess strong public relations, communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Possess strong organizational, time management, record-keeping and computer skills.
  • Have a B.C. Industrial Vegetation and Noxious Weed Pesticide Applicator Certificate (to be obtained before the completion of the probation period).
  • Have a valid BC Driver’s license with a safe driving record

Natural Resource Technician

The Natural Resource Technician performs highly skilled technical park development and educational work of a relatively complex nature under the limited supervision of the Parks Planning and Sustainability Supervisor. Under the day-to-day supervision of the Senior Natural Resource Technician, the incumbent assists in field coordination of nature park area development, vegetative and habitat management, construction, park maintenance, and enforcement in accordance with the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Master Plan.

The work involves conducting safety inspections and risk assessments where close care and attention is required to prevent serious environmental damage and to minimize park hazards to prevent serious injury to others. The job involves outside work with exposure to severe heat and variable weather conditions, exposure to aggressive individuals and animals, and moderately heavy exertion while mountain biking and undertaking park maintenance or other park duties. Considerable independent judgment and initiative are required in carrying out the work

Salary Range

Hourly salary: $26.96. (2016 rate)

Required Skills, Training and Education


  • Minimum two-year diploma in Parks and Wildland Recreation Management or Natural Resource Science;
  • Completion of post-secondary computer courses in beginner word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software;

Experience and Skills

  • Minimum two years’ previous experience in park operations and regulations, including the operation and maintenance of park equipment and machinery, park construction, landscaping, and general park maintenance related to natural space park settings;
  • Minimum six months’ previous experience coordinating, overseeing, or supervising staff or volunteers;
  • Valid B.C. Driver’s Licence – Class 5; and
  • Completion of Level One First Aid with Transportation Endorsement and Red Cross Emergency First Aid or equivalent

Trees, Trails, Horticulture and Natural Areas Technician

Trees, Trails, Horticulture and Natural Area workers are responsible for relaying instructions to and assisting with supervising of a small group of assigned employees.


  • Perform a variety of technical tasks in the field of horticulture, including working in cooperation with other municipal crews and complete routine inspections as required
  • Respond to routine public enquiries and complaints, and maintain routine records of activities in assigned areas
  • Perform related work as required

Salary Range

Annual provincial median salary: $54,080

Source: 2018 Job Bank Wage data

Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2018 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))

Provincial hourly rate

  • High: $33.00/hr
  • Median: $26.00/hr
  • Low: $16.00/hr

Source: 2018 Job Bank Wage Report


I’ve worked as a Parks, Trails and Horticulture Technician for a municipality within the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Region for the past six years. Here is my story…

QWhat do you love about your job?

A: Being outside and watching things grow!

QHow did you come to decide to pursue a career in this occupation?

A: I started in biological sciences (botany) and needed a practical aspect so I went into horticulture. I was in the nursery industry for a number of years.

QWhat are good traits or skills that someone should have when considering this career?

A: Horticulture skills and service skills (i.e., customers and dealing with public) and time management.

QDo you have any hiring practices tips to share?

A: Try it first before going to school for it. Make sure you enjoy being outside even in all types of weather.

Required Skills, Training and Education

Education and Experience:

  • Completion of Grade 12 plus recognized certification in horticulture or landscape maintenance, supervisory training, experience in horticulture, landscape installation and maintenance or an equivalent combination of training and experience
  • Considerable knowledge of the principles, practices, methods and materials used in construction and landscape maintenance work


  • Knowledge of plant health care management and the ability to perform a variety of technical tasks including some independent judgement in construction and maintenance operations
  • Ability to prepare and interpret landscape plans and maintain routine records

Urban Forestry – Parks Technician

Job responsibilities

  • Perform and monitor fieldwork
    • Evaluate tree health to determine the hazard potential and recommend possible solutions.
    • Monitor specialized plantings.
    • Recognize and determine ideal reclamation planting sites.
    • Perform reclamation plantings.
    • Monitor and control plant diseases .
    • Apply herbicide in designated areas.
    • Prune small trees, hedges and shrubs to improve plant health.
    • Maintain knowledge of equipment operation, fertilizer and chemical application guidelines and
      various related horticultural information.
    • Assist crews in plant maintenance, landscaping and construction activities (such as planting trees
      and shrubs).
    • Perform other urban forestry activities (beaver wire, nursery maintenance).
  • Provide technical advice and assistance:
    • Supervise volunteers during fieldwork (community plantings).
    • Answer routine and complex tree and forest related inquiries from the public.
    • Instruct Parks Maintenance crews in proper pruning practices.
    • Liaise with maintenance crews and maintain various databases.

Common Job Title

  • Environmental Technician

Salary Range

Starting annual salary range: $33,000 – $37,000 per year

A forestry technician with several years of experience and education can make between $40,000 and $70,000 per year.

Source: Eco Canada


I’m Craig Bench. I’ve worked as an Urban Forestry Technician for the City of North Vancouver  for the past four years. Here is my story…

QWhat do you love about your job?

A: The best parts are:

  • Educating the public about the Urban Forest
  • The technical aspects within the knowledge, skills and abilities of position
  • Working outside in Urban and Natural Areas
  • Working with trees as a career
  • Learning from other local government Arborists

QHow did you come to decide to pursue a career in this occupation?

A: I started my career as a Trade Landscape Horticulturist and quickly became interested in tree pruning and maintenance. After taking a tree climbing course I became very inspired to pursue a career in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry.

QWhat are good traits or skills that someone should have when considering this career?

A: Key traits are:

  • Technical aptitude.
  • Passion for nature and interests in outdoor recreation.
  • Self-motivated and determined.
  • Good communicator who shares knowledge with others.
  • Team oriented.

QWhat advice would you give someone considering a career in the Parks Sector?

A: My advice would be:

  • If starting career out of school obtain 3-5 years experience in private sector before considering a Local Government career.
  • Monitor job postings for full-time positions and read position specifications.
  • When applying for a position consider geographic location and if you would work there long term.
  • Set out career goals and apply for positions that will fulfill those goals.

QDo you have any hiring practices tips to share?

A:  Arrive at an interview prepared with a portfolio including pictures that reflect the position you are applying for, be professional, and prepare any questions you may have about the position in advance.

Required Skills, Training and Education

Education and Experience:

  • Completion of 2 year diploma in horticultural sciences or equivalent courses leading to a diploma.
  • Minimum of two years experience in urban forestry.


  • Ability to identify plants and plant problems.
  • Ability to operate and maintain a variety of motorized equipment (mowers, rototillers, spraying
    equipment) and to use a variety of standard gardening tools.
  • Ability to work independently or in a group setting, paying attention to deadlines and time frames.
  • Ability to communicate orally and in writing in a clear, accurate and concise manner and ability to
    deal effectively and cooperatively with the public, volunteers and City employees.
  • Ability to exert continuous physical effort (e.g. planting, weeding, digging, pruning) and to work in
    fatiguing positions (e.g. bending, kneeling).
  • Able to exert moderate physical effort; ability to work outside in most types of weather and
  • Requires basic computer skills.
  • Completion of first-aid and safety courses and possession of a valid driver’s license.
  • Knowledge of the city and parks policies, procedures and bylaws.

Urban Forestry Organizations/Associations

  • Association of BC Forest Professionals
  • The Western Forestry Contractors’ Association