Prompt reforestation of harvested areas is key to sustainable forest management. This ensures the forest maintains its ability to grow trees, and provides the young trees with a head start against competing vegetation to reduce the need for manual or chemical brushing treatments. Stands are considered free growing when they reach a stage where their density, health and height make them less vulnerable to competition and more likely to reach maturity.
Prompt reforestation controls invasive non-native plants, which can be difficult to control, and have a significant impact on timber production and agriculture. They can also alter the structure of natural plant communities and threaten biodiversity.
Canfor uses ecologically suitable species to restore all harvested areas to healthy, native free-growing forests promptly. We determine the species before we harvest, basing the choice on ecosystem type and potential regeneration risks such as frost, flooding or heavy snow.
We also use natural regeneration of local tree species where appropriate to maintain genetic diversity and ensure the trees are adapted to local conditions so they are able to withstand natural disturbance events and agents.
In 2014, we planted 65.9 million trees on our tenures – almost 11 million more than in 2013. Canfor owns and operates our own tree seedling nursery, which produces about 14% of our seedling requirements. In addition to the trees we grow ourselves, we buy seedlings from three independent nurseries – PRT, Woodmere, and Silvagro. About 45 million seedlings were planted between May 1 and June 21, and another 20 million from June 25 to Aug. 1.
Canfor operations in Alberta and British Columbia use genetically improved seed grown at either the Huallen Seed Orchard near Grande Prairie, Alberta, or at the Vernon Seed Orchard Company site near Vernon, BC. Improved seed is created through the controlled breeding of trees that exhibit superior attributes in the wild. There is no genetic modification; it involves the careful cross-pollination of trees that exhibit desired characteristics such as fast growth or natural disease resistance. In Alberta, approximately 50% of Canfor harvested sites are planted with genetically improved stock, and in British Columbia a little more than half of our seedlings are grown from improved seed.