Reclamation FAQ

Q:

WHAT ARE SEED ZONES?

A:

Seed zones are geographic subdivisions of the province of Alberta and are based on general genetic criteria. They limit seed movement to a conservation area where native trees of all species can be moved without risk of mal-adaption or erosion of genetic integrity. Alberta is divided into 90 seed zones.

The seed zones are described in the "Alberta Forest Genetic Resource Management and Conservation Standards" (see: http://esrd.alberta.ca/lands-forests/forest-management/documents/FGRMS-AlbertaForestGeneticResourceManagementAndConservationStandards-May2009.pdf)

What this means for reclamation:
Commercial trees (spruce, pine, fir, poplar, aspen, birch, etc.) must be grown from seed collected in the seed zone where the trees will be planted. The practical implication is that you must plan your reclamation project at least a year in advance so that we have time to source seed from the correct seed zone, grow the trees in one of our nurseries, and plant them at the correct time of year. (see: When do I have to order trees?)

Some people want to ignore the seed zone rules because they think it will help them speed up their reclamation project. This is a bad idea. By obeying the seed zone rules you can be assured that the trees you plant are genetically adapted to the climate, latitude, elevation, and location of your site. This translates into better survival and success of your reclamation stock.



SEED ZONE MAP

seed zone map of Alberta

Map credit: Resource Analysis Section, Forest Management Branch, SRD (page 40)

Q:

I NEED TO RECLAIM A SITE IMMEDIATELY, CAN YOU DO IT?

A:

If you already have trees available we'd love to see if we can fit you into our schedule so give us a call. However, if you need the trees too, it's unlikely we can reclaim your site immediately because we need time to grow the trees. (see: When do I have to order trees?)

Q:

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO PLANT SEEDLINGS?

A:

Reclamation seedlings can be planted in either the spring or summer. The table below shows the characteristics of the various stock as well as the pros and cons of planting during the different seasonal windows.



COMPARISION OF SPRING AND SUMMER TREES:

 

OVERWINTERED - SPRING STOCK

HOTLIFTED - SUMMER STOCK

LIFECYCLE

  • grown in a greenhouse starting in February or March and harvested in October or November
  • harvested and shipped to one of our cold storage facilities where the trees stay frozen at -3 C for the winter
  • thawed in May or June
  • planted within days of thawing
  • grown in a greenhouse starting in January or February and harvested in July or August
  • harvested in July or August while actively growing (hot-lifted)
  • planted as soon as possible

WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FIRST YEAR

  • the seedling intially has a short period of root growth before the bud breaks and the plant uses most of its resources for shoot growth
  • no shoot growth during the year of plant so most of the plant's resources are used for root production

BENEFITS

  • trees are dormant at the time of planting
  • makes use of good soil moisture in the spring
  • competition on planting site hasn't greened up at time of planting therefore finding suitable planting sites is easier
  • the seedling grows taller in the same year as planting therefore allowing the seedling to compete more effectively for light
  • can plant sites that were too wet or inaccessible in the spring
  • better drought resistance during first year following planting as the seedling's resources are put into root growth
  • better for areas with late spring frosts as no new soft supple shoot elongation occurs in first year that could be frost damaged
  • can extend the planting season relative to using spring trees alone

DRAWBACKS

  • spring weather can be erratic which can delay planting
  • sites may be too wet or otherwise inaccessible in the spring
  • spring seedlings are highly susceptible to late spring frosts
  • must be planted by June 15th to allow seedling to complete growth cycle and develop frost hardiness before first fall frost
  • new spring shoot growth is susceptible browsering by wildlife
  • moisture may be unreliable in the summer
  • no height growth in the first year
  • seedlings are undergoing active root growth at time of planting so careful stock handling must be practiced to avoid planting shock
  • finding suitable planting spots may be more difficult as planting occurs after competing vegetation has greened up

EARLIEST PLANT DATE

  • as soon as the ground is thawed and after the risk of late spring frosts has past
  • usually around May 15th
  • as soon as the trees are ready in the greenhouse
  • usually around July 1st

LATEST PLANT DATE

not later than the middle of June because:
  • even though the trees are dormant while in freezer storage, they are still alive and consuming carbohydrates. If they are planted beyond the middle of June they will have used up too many carbohydrates in storage and may be too weak to grow roots and flush effectively
  • spring seedlings also require enough time after flushing to complete their growth cycle and harden off before the first fall frost
not later than the middle of August because:
  • seedling roots must have enough time to grow into the surrounding soil before the onset of winter
  • late planted trees are subject to winter desiccation (dry winter air can damage the trees) as the seedlings have less root development into the surrounding soil and therefore poorer tissue moisture
  • trees are subject to frost heaving as the seedlings are not appropriately anchored due to lack of root egress into surrounding soil
Q:

WHAT SIZE OF TREES SHOULD BE PLANTED?

A:

Seedling size is usually described by several morphological and empirical nursery rearing attributes which include:

  • height
  • root callar diameter (RCD)
  • volume of rooting media
  • growing density


The table below categorizes seedlings into qualitative descriptions of small, medium, and large:

TYPICAL SEEDLING SIZE CLASS

SEEDLING CHARACTERISTIC

SMALL

MEDIUM

LARGE

AVERAGE SEEDLING HEIGHT RANGE (cm)

16-20 20-24 25+

AVERAGE SEEDLING RCD RANGE (mm)

2.6-3.0 3.0-3.4 3.5+

VOLUME RANGE OF ROOTING MEDIA (ml)

40-80 80-125 125+

GROWING DENSITY RANGE (TREES/m2)

> 553 364-553 < 364

STYROBLOCK DESIGNATION

PSB 211A - 240/40 PSB 411B - 128/85 PSB 412A - 77/125
PSB 310A - 160/60 PSB 410B - 112/80 PSB 415D - 77/170
PSB 313B - 160/65 PSB 412B - 112/95 PSB 512A - 60/220
  PSB 415B - 112/105 PSB 615A - 45/340

BAREROOT DESIGNATION

    P + 1

The amount of vegetation competition on the site is one of the most important parameters to consider when deciding what size of stock to deploy. Generally large stock will perform better than small stock in competitive environments unless there are other site limiting factors such as low snow levels, warm winters, and high potential for winter desiccation damage. Larger stock is taller, has more foliage, and therefore has a greater photosynthetic capacity with which to compete against other vegetation.

Larger containers have greater volumes of rooting media in the plug, which is positively correlated with seedling growth and survival under a wide range of conditions. However, in dry conditions larger stock tends to be more susceptible to drought stress and may actually perform worse than smaller stock of the same species. Larger stock can also suffer winter desiccation damage in areas that experience low levels of snow cover and high winds.

Therefore small sized seedlings should be considered for dry, low competition sites or areas that are at risk of winter desiccation damage. And larger stock should be considered for high-competition sites with a low risk of winter desiccation damage.

Q:

WHEN DO I HAVE TO ORDER TREES?

A:

It depends on the kind of trees you need. Most reclamation stock is spring 1 + 0 or summer 1 + 0. For spring 1 + 0 stock we need your order at least 18 months before you intend to take delivery of the trees. With summer 1 + 0 stock we need your order at least 10 months before you intend to take delivery of your trees. If we have to collect seed for you as well, we will require even more lead time (see: What are seed zones?). This is why it is critical that we are brought in on the reclamation process as early as possible.

The following chart shows the lead times required for various stock types.

chart describing seedling ordering schedules
Q:

HOW MANY TREES DO I NEED PER HECTARE?

A:

In general, we plant 2,000 stems per hectare. This is the minimum number of trees required if you want any chance of passing a survey and receiving a reclamation certificate.

Q:

WHAT SPECIES OF TREES DO I NEED?

A:

We aim to return the land to its original state. Typically, wet land does best with black spruce. Moist land does well with white spruce and aspen. And dry, sandy land does best with pine. With that said, it is important to have a silviculture specialist assess the site to determine the best species and the ratios between the species for each site to ensure success.

Q:

I WOULD LIKE TO READ THE ACTUAL REGULATIONS, DO YOU HAVE A LINK?

A:

Reclamation falls under the Alberta government’s "upstream oil and gas reclamation and remediation program", which can be found here: http://environment.alberta.ca/01108.html

Q:

I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS, IS THERE SOMEONE I CAN TALK TO DIRECTLY?

A:

Absolutely, our phone number is listed on our contact page. We'd be happy to answer all your questions.

Q:

CAN WE JUST HAVE TREE TIME SERVICES GROW THE TREES BUT HAVE OUR OWN CREWS PLANT THEM?

A:

Yes. We'd love to help you through the entire reclamation process because we believe we can do it better than anyone else. But if you just want the trees we would be happy to grow them for you.