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Seed science supporting tree planting

A variety of different seed species collected in metal jars

From seeds to forests

Tree planting is a complex, multi-step process. A critical first step is to source and collect seeds of the desired species and genetic family for the planting project. Once collected, seeds are planted and grown as seedlings in nurseries for several years. They are grown in containers or outdoors in field soil until seedlings are 1 to 4 years old and are ready for planting.

Seed management

Three photos, described below

Top: National Tree Seed Centre staff uses special equipment to gather Eastern Hemlock seeds
Bottom left: Oak seeds planted in rows at a greenhouse
Bottom right: A tray of balsam fir seedlings

High-quality tree seeds are the first step to successful restoration and afforestation. Quality seeds evolve into healthy trees that provide ecosystem services, such as absorbing carbon dioxide. Seed management activities impact seed quality and are important to attaining desirable tree planting outcomes.

Management activities can include:

  • registering
  • processing
  • storing
  • testing
  • distributing seeds for largescale reforestation and afforestation programs

Canada’s National Tree Seed Centre (NTSC) collects and maintains seeds for research, recovery programs, and Indigenous cultural programs. The NTSC collects seeds, processes collections down to pure seed, tests seed quality for processing facilities, and stores seeds to ensure they stay viable for future research. Their mandate includes the conservation of genetic resources under threat from invasive pests and pathogens and climate change.

Sharing knowledge to support the 2 Billion Trees program

The 2 Billion Trees (2BT) program is committed to providing program recipients with the knowledge they need to succeed. Below is a list of research projects, knowledge exchange products, tools and activities that have been developed or are in the process of being developed to support tree planting under the program and enhance the survival and productivity of planted trees.

Research projects:

Knowledge exchange products, tools and activities:

Research results and other knowledge will become available on an ongoing basis and will be added to the 2BT knowledge inventory and on the Canadian Conservation of Land Management.

Stay connected

If you have questions or want to join the distribution list for program updates, email the 2BT Program.

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