Forest renewal in the Bancroft Minden Forest occurs both naturally and artificially. Most renewal occurs through natural means in the form of tree-marking, commercial thinning, and tending. The artificial regeneration practiced in the Bancroft Minden Forest is used to foster suitable conditions for a healthy future forest when help is needed. This can be done through site preparation, tree-planting & follow-up tending.
The Bancroft Minden Forest Company uses Tree Marking as a tool for communicating to the Harvest Operators the chosen trees for removal and for retention. The use of Tree Marking ensures that the harvest adheres to the Forest Operation Prescription. All Tree Markers who work on Crown Land are Certified. Our Tree Markers most commonly use two paint colours to represent their decisions: blue and orange.
- Orange paint is applied as a ring around trees intended for removal.
- Blue paint is applied in the same fashion, but instead represents tree retention. In addition, blue paint is commonly applied on trees in which the intention for retention is due to the wildlife value of the tree. In this case, the Tree Marker would use the blue paint to paint dots or a large “W”.
Tree Marking is practiced in both partial harvest systems; selection and shelterwood. The target is removal of unhealthy trees, or those with poor form, known as unacceptable growing stock (UGS) trees, while retaining acceptable growing stock (AGS) and trees that provide wildlife value.
Tree Marking can often be viewed as a recipe. For each hectare of land, the tree marker must retain 10 cavity trees, 10 mast trees, and 10 scattered conifers. The Tree Marker must also retain 1 supercanopy tree for every 4 hectares.
Trees are always competing with each other for resources. The limiting factors in forests are: water, nutrients and light. By removing the diseased and defective trees, the remaining healthy trees have access to more resources and put on a lot more growth. This forest was last harvested in 1973. You can see how the tree responded to the boost in resources when it was released from competition by the amount the tree rings expanded. The tree put on more growth in the 45 years after harvest than it did in the 40 years before harvest. This means it captured a lot more carbon than it would have if it was left in an unmanaged forest.
Renewing the forest is accomplished under the application of different silviculture modalities. Silviculture is defined as the art and science of growing forests and is based on the premise that the forest is constantly subject to change through natural disturbances. Forest managers use silviculture to emulate these natural disturbances through planned operations that promote forest health and create habitat for wildlife species
Site preparation is used in the Bancroft Minden Forest Company to foster suitable conditions for natural or artificial regeneration. This process is done mechanically or chemically by highly trained and experienced professionals.
The three types of site preparation treatments applied are: mechanical, chemical, prescribed burning. Mechanical site preparation is the most common type used in the Bancroft Minden Forest
- Mechanical – using machinery and/or attachments to modify onsite vegetation, logging debris and surface organic matter. A bulldozer or skidder blade is typically used to allow for desirable seed germination while removing competition. This facilitates good conditions for tree-planting.
- Chemical – the application of herbicides through helicopter, skidder mounted airblast, or manually using tools like a backpack sprayer.
- Prescribed burning – using controlled fires to reduce vegetation, logging debris and organic matter to facilitate good tree-planting conditions.
BMFC manages two white pine seed orchards which were originally established by the Governement in the 1970’s to provide genetically improved seed stock to support future tree planting operations. We collect seed from these orchards during good seed years to replenish our seed ‘bank’ account.
Tending operations are designed to improve the survival, growth and quality of the forest. This can either be done mechanically or chemically, depending on forest conditions and desired outcomes. The most common tending treatments practiced on the Bancroft Minden Forest are:
- Cleaning: This is the process of selectively removing undesirable tree species that are in direct competition with crop species. Most commonly, BMFC employs cleaning operations following pine planting projects. Faster growing species, such as poplar, birch, and red maple, are removed to reduce competition for pine seedlings. This is usually done mechanically; however, chemical treatments may also be used.
- Thinning: BMFC engages in thinning operations to improve the composition and quality of the forest. This is a mechanical operation where unmerchantable trees removed to provide space and light for healthier, more vigorous trees. This usually takes place in even aged stands, such as red pine forests.
- Stand Improvement: This is very similar to thinning, but it usually takes place in uneven aged hardwood forests. Unmerchantable trees that are diseased or defective are felled to reduce competition for healthier trees.
90% of the harvested forests in the Bancroft Minden Forest are regenerated naturally, leaving the remainder 10% to be regenerated through tree-planting. Tree-planting is most commonly used to regenerate white pine and red pine.
Most tree-planting in the BMFC occurs in the spring, typically between April 20th and May 15th. The majority of our sites that have tree-planting occur are mechanically site-prepped first.
The Bancroft Minden Forest Company does not hire tree-planters but may provide contact information for the contractors involved in our program.
There are many red pine plantations which were established decades ago on marginal lands where thinning is performed every 1 – 2 decades. After 4-6 entries, we typically underplant them to red or white pine to restart the process.
This plantation was thinned in the year marked by the pencil point. You can see how much faster its growing after thinning than before; as the trees start to grow in and take up space, they compete with each other for limited resources, stunting their growth. By thinning, we focus on removing the stunted trees with defects or poor form to release the healthiest trees from competition so they can continue to grow faster and sequester more carbon than they would in an overgrown plantation.