Trends in Forest Tree Seed Use in B.C. (1987-2019)

Conserving, protecting and managing forest tree genetic resources is the foundation for economic, social, cultural and ecological goods and services that flow from British Columbia's forests. Tracking forest tree seed use—from source to planting site—is an important tool for monitoring and assessment of B.C.’s forest tree genetic resources. This information supports the continuous improvement of genetic conservation and resource management plans, strategies and actions, including seed use best management practices used in reforestation. This indicator investigates the trends in forest tree seed use in regenerating B.C.'s forests from 1987 to 2019.

  • Maintaining genetic diversity, a fundamental component of biodiversity, ensures forests and ecosystems are healthy, resilient and productive. It also plays an important role in adaptation so that forests and ecosystems are able to effectively respond to natural disturbance events—such as wildfire, pests and disease infestations—as well as the impacts of climate change.
  • The area of B.C's crown land reforested through planting has remained consistent—with an average over the past ten years of approximately 180,000 hectares per year (2010-2019), a slight increase over the previous 10 year average of approximately 172,200 hectares per year (2000-2009).
  • Select seed—seed selected for specific genetic traits such as growth, pest resistance, and wood density—includes seed sourced from orchards and natural stand superior provenances. Over the past two decades, the proportion of crown land planted with select seed has steadily increased to approximately 68 percent in 2019.
  • Climate Based Seed Transfer, a climate adaptation strategy, matches seed sources (seedlots) to climatically suitable planting sites. In 2018, the option to use climate-based seed transfer was implemented through amendments to the Chief Forester Standards for Seed Use.

Visit Tree Seed to learn more about tree seed use in B.C., and the provincial Tree Improvement Program, which helps guide reforestation and silviculture investments through forest genetic research, tree breeding and seed orchard programs. Visit Climate Based Seed Transfer to learn about the science, policy, and tools available to help make suitable climate based seed transfer choices.

Forest Regeneration by Tree Seed Source in B.C. (1987–2019)

Chart showing the area of B.C. reforested each year by seed source from 1987 to 2019.
  • The chart above displays the change in reforestation patterns—planted versus natural regeneration—and the change in area of forest planted by tree seed source from 1987 to 2019.
  • After a disturbance by forest fire, forest pest or forest harvest, reforestation occurs by natural regeneration, meaning from roots or seed, or by planting. Seed used for planting may be from one or more genetic sources: orchard, natural stand superior provenance, and natural stand non-superior provenance.
  • Both orchard and natural stand superior provenance seed sources have a known level of improvement based on extensive forest genetic adaptation research trials and tree breeding for the selection of desired traits—such as growth, pest resistance and wood density.
Picture of the Lemon Creek Watershed, British Columbia, Canada.

Lemon Creek Watershed, British Columbia Photo credit: Jack Woods

Select Seed Use by Natural Resource District in B.C.

A series of maps showing the percentage of forest replanted using select seed in each Natural Resource Forest District in British Columbia from 1990 to 2019.
  • The chart above displays the percentage of select seed use by natural resource district reported in 6-year snapshots from 1987 to 2019.
  • Select seed use at the natural resource district level is more variable, in part due to variances in the number and geographic range of tree species for which there are orchards. Annual or periodic fluctuations in orchard cone crops and seed inventories also influence select seed use at local levels.
  • Overall, the increased use of select seed is indicative of the substantial effort underway to meet the target set by the Forest Genetic Council of British Columbia to, by 2020, increase select seed use to 75 percent of the total provincial seed use for reforestation.
Picture of the Lemon Creek Watershed, British Columbia, Canada.

Interior Douglas-fir Seed Orchard, British Columbia Photo credit: Jack Woods


View the methods used to develop these measures (PDF, 1.2MB). The R code for creating the graphs presented on this page is available on GitHub.

For more information on this indicator or on Forest Tree Seed Use in British Columbia contact the Forest Improvement and Research Management Branch at


*By accessing these datasets, you agree to the licence associated with each file, as indicated in parentheses below.

Updated January 2021

Suggested Citation: Environmental Reporting BC. 2021. Trends in Forest Tree Seed Use in B.C. (1987-2019). Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, British Columbia, Canada.