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Indicator: Forest regeneration

In 2018, at least 427 million seedlings were planted on 350,000 hectares (ha) of provincial forest lands in Canada. An additional 6,000 ha of forest were established by seeding.

  • In 2018, the area artificially regenerated declined by 8%, and the number of seedlings planted declined by 5%.
  • Declines are likely related to the gradual decline in area harvested starting in 2015; mostly in British Columbia.
  • Successful regeneration is required following forest harvesting on public lands.
  • Forest type, silviculture system and the required composition of the new forest determine the regeneration method (natural or artificial).
  • Artificial regeneration – planting or seeding – has been applied to about 55% of the area harvested in the past 20 years.

Area artificially regenerated and number of seedlings planted on provincial and territorial Crown lands in Canada, 2008 to 2018

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Graph summary

Between 2008 and 2012, the number of seedlings planted per year in Canada decreased from 613 million in 2008, to 487 million in 2012. From 2012 to 2015, the number of seedlings planted increased to 572 million. Then, for the last three years, the number of seedlings planted decreased again each year, to 428 million in 2018.

For each year between 2008 and 2018, about 95% of the total area artificially regenerated was renewed by planting, while about 5% was renewed by seeding. The area artificially regenerated was highest in 2008, at 449,000 hectares (ha), and then decreased to 360,000 ha in 2012. Between 2013 and 2016 the area artificially regenerated was between 432,000 and 408,000 ha per year. In 2018, 356,000 ha were artificially regenerated, down from 385,000 ha the previous year.

Graph data
Table showing the area artificially regenerated in hectares, and the number of seedlings planted on provincial and territorial Crown lands in Canada, from 2008 to 2018.
Year Area planted Area seeded Seedlings planted
2008 428,396 20,623 613,157,157
2009 376,132 15,938 537,238,824
2010 348,154 12,063 487,360,562
2011 359,175 11,202 508,301,732
2012 348,973 10,541 487,373,190
2013 420,167 11,638 553,958,916
2014 413,103 17,268 549,892,774
2015 393,423 19,743 572,668,151
2016 381,728 25,960 485,954,418
2017 368,059 17,292 450,211,312
2018 350,278 6,003 427,502,228

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 lands in Canada, so virtually all harvested lands will continue to be regenerated.
  • The area regenerated annually is most strongly related to recent harvest levels. These levels are influenced by markets for wood products but are always within the bounds of sustainable forest management.
  • The allowable harvest in British Columbia is projected to continually decline until stabilizing in 2025, mostly because of mortality from the mountain pine beetle epidemic. As a result, renewal rates are likely to follow a similar trend. As the largest Canadian forestry jurisdiction, a decline in British Columbia renewal rates will have a corresponding impact on the national totals.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

  • Montréal Process: 2.c
 
Sources and information
  • Government of British Columbia. Trends in timber harvest in B.C. (accessed April 5, 2020).
  • National Forestry Database. Regeneration, Table 6.2 Area of direct seeding by jurisdiction, tenure and application method. (accessed May 28, 2020).
  • National Forestry Database. Regeneration, Table 6.2.1 Number of seedlings planted by jurisdiction, tenure and species group. (accessed May 28, 2020).
  • National Forestry Database. Regeneration, Table 6.2.2 Area planted by jurisdiction, tenure and species group. (accessed May 28, 2020).
  • Notes:
    • Data are for forests on provincial and territorial Crown lands across Canada. Federally and privately owned lands are excluded.
    • Area seeded data for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 are reported as “not available” in the National Forestry Database for the province of Quebec. Therefore, the national total reported here does not include the area seeded in the province of Quebec for those years. Years prior to 2015 include data for Quebec.
    • Area planted data for the years 2017 and 2018 are reported as “not available” in the National Forestry Database for the province of Quebec. Therefore, the national total reported here does not include the area planted in the province of Quebec for those years. Years prior to 2017 include data for Quebec.
    • Data concerning the number of seedlings planted for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 are reported as “not available” in the National Forestry Database for the province of Quebec. Therefore, the national total reported here does not include seedlings planted in the province of Quebec for those years. Years prior to 2016 include data for Quebec.
    • Natural regeneration is often the most efficient approach for regenerating harvested areas. One scenario is when there is abundant existing understorey regeneration and a plentiful seed supply (e.g. lowland black spruce and tolerant hardwoods, respectively). Another scenario is 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.

 

Table of contents — The State of Canada's Forests Report

 

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