Restoration Treatments

There are four general approaches for restoring whitebark pine forests in areas of suitable habitat where existing forests have been damaged or destroyed:

  1. Collect seeds and grow seedlings in a nursery, then outplant. This is the most costly restoration approach but also has the highest probability of success. Ideally seedling stock will be genetically resistant to white pine blister rust and appropriate for a warming climate. Works best in recently burned areas but may also work in clearcuts or mountain pine beetle-killed forests.
  2. Collect seeds and cache seeds directly into the soil. This approach is less costly than using nursery stock but germination, survival and early growth rates are much lower than for nursery-grown stock. As above, seeds should be from climatically suitable stock that is resistant to blister rust. Works best in recently burned areas, but may also work in clearcuts.
  3. Release and protect naturally regenerated seedlings from competing vegetation and other damaging agents. This typically involves removing faster-growing trees such as lodgepole pine, subalpine fir, and shrubby vegetation from areas where mature trees were killed by mountain pine beetle. Experience in the United States suggests that only about 20% of the seedlings are likely to grow well following release.
  4. Conduct prescribed burns to prepare sites for natural regeneration (by Clark’s Nutcrackers) or by artificial planting (1) or seeding (2), above. Prescribed burning requires plenty of advance planning and skilled personnel. Relying on natural regeneration is unlikely to be successful in northern BC where good cone crops and Clark’s Nutcrackers are scarce.
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Seedlings grown at UNBC April 2011

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Direct seeding success Wetzin'Kwa High elevation Sept 2012

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Weeding needed Gosnell June 2012

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Low severity burn creates seed beds Gosnell Joshua Rd site 2010

The Bulkley Valley Research Centre has begun to implement planting, seeding, and release of natural regeneration but has no plans to conduct prescribed burns for whitebark pine restoration at this time as there are plenty of recent wildfires and cutblocks in our area.

Planted Seedlings

The Bulkley Valley Research Centre hopes to successfully establish 500 to 7500 whitebark pine seedlings over five years within high value, recently-burned or mountain pine beetle-killed habitat and to successfully regenerate >20 hectares of endangered whitebark pine ecosystems over a 5 year period. 100 seedlings of mixed non-local provenance grown at UNBC’s Enhanced Forestry Lab were planted at two trial sites in the 2010 Gosnell Wildfire immediately after snowmelt. The planted area covered approximately 2 ha. The trees were grouped in widely spaced clumps on appropriate microsites to simulate how they would grow in nature. Seedlings were marked with flags and aluminum tags. The two sites were:

  1. km 14 Crystal Road, ESSFmk/02a site series (50 seedlings)
  2. Joshua Road, ESSFmk/02b site series (50 seedlings)
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Gosnell one year after planting

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Courtney Brendan Sybille Heaussler planting Gosnell Trial 2011

We selected a variety of planting microsites and filled half of the planting holes with soil from beneath a healthy whitebark pine tree to provide mycorrhizal inoculum (UNBC researcher Linda Tackaberry found that whitebark soil greatly improved early seedling growth compared to uninoculated nursery). Seedling height, basal diameter, microsite, soils, and seedling condition were recorded shortly after planting, and seedling locations were mapped. We are relocating and remeasuring each seedling annually.

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Alana planting Gosnell Trial

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Gosnell wildfire Crystal Rd site 2nd growing season 2012

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Wetzin'Kwa low elevation planting June 2012

In 2012 we planted an additional 276 seedlings from UNBC at 3 elevations in the Wetzin’Kwa Community Forest on Hudson Bay Mountain.  Thanks to Linda Tackaberry and Hugues Massicotte at UNBC for supplying the seedlings.

Direct Seeding

The Bulkley Valley Research Centre’s Whitebark Pine Restoration project hopes to successfully regenerate at least 1000 whitebark pine seedlings from seed over 5 years in high value, recently burned or MPB-killed bear habitats and protect these seedlings from competing vegetation and other damage.

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Seed germination March 2012

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Seed germination

To date (2011-2012) we have direct seeded 500 seeds (5 seeds per cache) 2 trial sites in the Gosnell Creek wildfire and after two growing seasons have 76 live seedlings at 42 caches regenerated from seed. The seedlings are 1-2 cm in size and experienced 11% mortality during the summer of 2012. The seedlings are staked and are monitored and weeded annually.

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Direct Seeding Crystal Road site June 2012

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Collected Seeds Nov 2011

Approximately 8000 poor quality dry seeds remain in storage. We plan to sow these seeds in the Gosnell Wildfire in fall 2013, allowing them to stratify naturally overwinter as they are not of good enough quality to justify artificial stratification.