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Seed science supporting tree planting

A variety of different seed species collected in metal jars

The 2 Billion Trees program (2BT) shares up-to-date science news and knowledge products with program recipients and the broader public to inform tree planting projects across the country. Research and knowledge on a variety of seed science topics can improve seedling production and supply, and assist in seed selection to grow trees that will thrive under a changing climate.

Collecting high-quality seeds

Successful restoration and afforestation efforts begin with strong and healthy tree seeds. Before tree planting can take place, seeds of the desired species and genetic footprint need to be collected or acquired, if not already available.

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

On public land, provincial tree seed centres are often responsible for:

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

In other jurisdictions, the responsibility for seed management falls on the land management agency or licensee.

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.

Seedling production

Nurseries germinate seeds under optimal conditions and sowing rates to enhance germination. Nurseries grow seeds in containers or outdoors in field soil until seedlings are 1 to 4 years old and are ready for planting.

In progress and upcoming knowledge products and activities to support seed collection, management and production operations

  • Virtual training sessions - Kick-starting Seed Supply Solutions through Knowledge Mobilization
  • Research project - Co-developing an Indigenous Seed Collection Program for Species of Cultural, Spiritual, and Economic Importance to Indigenous Communities
  • Research project - SSOFT, Strong Seeds for Our Future Tree

Additional resources

Our knowledge inventory provides a collection of Canadian Forest Service publications that can help inform tree planting activities.

This series of technical notes published by the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (NAIT’s) Applied Research Centres on seed related processes and technologies can also help guide tree planting initiatives.

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