Quebecer breaks Guinness world record, planting more than 23K trees in 24 hours

A 23-year-old tree planter from Quebec set a new world record by planting 23,060 trees in 24 hours.

Antoine Moses, from Gaspé, says he can plant on average 16 trees per minute — about one tree every 3.75 seconds.

“As soon as I passed that original record I cheered up and hugged all the crew around me. I was stoked and happy but not even 10 seconds after I just kept going,” Moses said.

Recognized by the Guinness World Records, the groundbreaking feat took place in a cut block area about 100 kilometres south of High Level, Alberta.

Moses says it was a collaborative effort, with the help of a six-person pit crew, planting the equivalent of what a half-dozen individual tree planters would do in a day’s work.

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“I was like, ‘All right, what’s the next number I can hit, 19K, 20K, 21K and finally 23 thousand,’” Moses said.

The experienced tree planter says over the past seven years he has managed to plant his own forest, with more than 1.3 million trees throughout Canada.

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An amateur athlete, running multiple marathons and training for an upcoming Ironman race, Moses says he approaches the tree planting like a sport.

“You have to keep your health up. It’s almost like everybody who plants trees is an athlete,” Moses said.

“You just have to put everything on your side and to make sure your fit enough to plant more.”

After 14 hours and 51 minutes of straight planting on the record-breaking day last summer, Moses had surpassed the old record of 15,170 trees held by Kenny Chaplin, set in 2001.

“Every generation needs a new hero so it’s about time my record is beat,” Chaplin said.

Chaplin, a pioneer of tree planting with his twin brother, started his career at the age of 18 and at 52 is still planting today.

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Chaplin says the arduous job of reforestation has changed over the decades.

“It wasn’t a sport, people just went out and planted for a couple of months. People didn’t think about their equipment and such,” Chaplin said.

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He says the act of tree planting continues to grow among the newer generations, with many people coming from Eastern Canada looking to get their hands dirty and live the rough-and-tumble lifestyle out West, all while reducing their carbon footprint.

“Regardless if you’re planting pine or spruce trees, you’re planting trees. Those trees are going to grow and they will help in this global issue.”

A native of Saskatchewan, Chaplin says he often revisits the land where he broke the record and reflects on the life that has sprouted up from his rewarding work.

“I can stand there and it’s really cool to walk into your forest. The trees are 20 feet tall. They’re spaced exactly how you placed them and you can get back to that day when you planted them. It’s quite significant and empowering just as a human being,” Chaplin said.

Both Moses and Chaplin say while the work is gruelling and at times backbreaking, the experience of being on the mountainside out in the elements is humbling and offers life-changing moments.

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“You’ll see life differently. You realize your day job or school life is, like, way easier. It gives you perspective in life,” Moses said.

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“If you can bear through it, you find yourself smiling and with this infestation of bugs up your nose and in your ears. But when you get comfortable in the uncomfortable it changes you, making you not only a better planter but a better person,” Chaplin said.

Moses says he is looking forward to seeing his record be broken, even offering aid to the next overachieving tree planter.

“I love the thrill of helping people. If someone wants to beat it I will help them I’ll give them my tips. I’m not scared,” Moses said.

In the meantime, the young Quebecer will be focusing on upcoming athletic competitions.

“It’s great that I’m the Guinness World record holder but as well it’s not only that in my life right now.”

Close to 600 million trees are planted in Canada each year by approximately 6,500 tree planters, according to Summit Reforestation & Forest Management Ltd.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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