Left: Cedar Seedling in front of Styrofoam blocks in nursery
Right: 2 year old Cedar growing on site
Very soon, the Mission Community Forest ramps up to complete our spring tree planting program. This takes place annually as soon as the weather conditions allow. Planting occurs under a contract with a professional tree planting company as selected through a competitive bid process. All areas that were harvested in 2017 will be reforested this spring 2018.
There is a lot more that goes into reforestation before the tree planting stage.
How do we get the seedlings? It starts with getting seed information from the Seed Planning and Registry computer program managed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources. Some species of seeds are collected from sites throughout the province, and some are reproduced in government seed orchards which breed trees for seed based on the best genetic performance. All the seed is registered in this computer system and available for purchase. Mission purchases approximately 2-3 years of seed at a time, to ensure its sources always remain current. All seed is stored in the provincial storage facility in Surrey until it is requested to be used.
In order to coordinate planting in 2018, back in the fall of 2016 we finalize where we will be harvesting in 2017. We take into account the elevation, aspect, soil and site conditions of each potential harvest area and decide which species will be replanted, what size of seedling stock will be the most suitable, and how many seedlings will be required on a per hectare basis.
We then have a competitive tending process to select a nursery that is the most qualified and cost effective site to grow the seedlings. The District creates a sowing request and the nursery contacts the seed storage facility to have the purchased seed delivered to them for sowing in styrofoam block plugs. Seedlings are sown and grown throughout the year and by winter are packed in bundles and frozen until we decide we are ready to have them planted in 2018.
The seedlings are requested to be thawed and shipped about 10 days in advance of the start of planting. Then the District monitors the planting quality through a series of inspections, including a survival survey one year after planting. Our planting success rate is above 95% due to our optimal planting time and climate, meaning replanting is rarely required.
The majority of trees planted are western red cedar, Douglas-fir, and to a lesser extent grand fir, white pine and spruce. All are naturally occurring throughout Mission’s forests. Western hemlock trees typically infill on almost every site due to their high cone production. About three trees are planted for every one tree harvested and this helps to control brush competition and allow for a healthy new forest to optimize the growing sites for the new forest.
In 2018, we will be planting our 4.5 millionth seedling since our licence was awarded 60 years ago, in 1958. Watch for notifications for our upcoming community tree planting celebration April 22nd.