Indicator: Regeneration

In 2016, 586 million seedlings were planted on 380,000 hectares (ha) of provincial forest lands in Canada. Seeding was used to re-establish forests on an additional 15,000 ha.

  • More seedlings were planted in 2016 than in the previous seven years – only 3% fewer than in the pre-recession 10-year average (1999–2008).
  • Area planted increased by 2% but was 10% below the pre-recession 10-year average.
  • Seeding is less favoured than planting, typically accounting for less than 5% of the area artificially regenerated.

Successful regeneration is required following forest harvesting on public lands. The type of forest, harvesting method and desired composition of the new forest determine the regeneration method.

Regeneration is achieved through natural or artificial (planting or seeding) means. Artificial regeneration is applied to about 55% of the total area harvested.

Area artificially regenerated and number of seedlings planted on provicial Crown lands in Canada, 2006–2016


Graph data
Table displays the area artificially regenerated and number of seedlings planted on provincial Crown lands in Canada, 2006–2016.
Year Area planted
Area seeded
Seedlings planted
2006 437,940 20,450 617,270,000
2007 449,635 34,546 625,234,000
2008 414,178 20,597 600,709,000
2009 365,847 15,937 518,602,000
2010 338,921 12,061 476,967,000
2011 347,654 11,202 495,099,000
2012 331,189 10,540 466,310,000
2013 405,285 11,197 535,730,000
2014 387,712 11,906 519,502,000
2015 370,318 7,881 542,963,000
2016 379,795 14,774 585,772,810

Why is this indicator important?

  • Regeneration activities ensure that harvested areas regrow as forests and continue to produce timber and maintain ecosystem services, such as storing carbon, regulating water quality and providing habitat.
  • The method used for regenerating forests can influence forest composition over time.

What is the outlook?

  • Regeneration is required on all Crown (public) lands in Canada, so virtually all harvested lands will continue to be regenerated.
  • The area regenerated is related to recent harvest levels, which are influenced by market conditions for wood products but are always within the bounds of sustainable forest management.
  • The proportions of natural and artificial regeneration are unlikely to deviate from recent trends.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

Sources and information
  • National Forestry Database. Regeneration, Table 6.2 Area of direct seeding by jurisdiction, tenure and application method (accessed July 3, 2018).
  • National Forestry Database. Regeneration, Table 6.2.1 Number of seedlings planted by jurisdiction, tenure and species group (accessed July 3, 2018).
  • National Forestry Database. Regeneration, Table 6.2.2 Area planted by jurisdiction, tenure and species group (accessed July 3, 2018).
    • Data are for forests on provincial Crown lands across Canada.
    • Federally and privately owned lands are excluded.
    • Natural regeneration is often the most efficient approach for regenerating harvested areas when there is abundant existing understorey regeneration and a plentiful seed supply (e.g., lowland black spruce and tolerant hardwoods, respectively), or when tree species that can resprout from established root systems are present and desired (e.g., trembling aspen). The area of forest naturally regenerated is not reported by jurisdiction, so it is estimated as the difference between total area harvested and the area artificially regenerated.
    • Artificial regeneration is suitable for sites where there is insufficient desired natural regeneration and where the objective is to achieve species composition targets required for sustainable forest management objectives.