UNBC Greenhouse Curator, John Orlowsky, prepares seedlings for transport.
The larch seedlings, sown in December, are now happily in the ground at Aleza Lake Research Forest where they can be observed and measured for many years to come.
The process started with watering the seedlings throughly and carfeully pulling them out of the styroblocks (“hot” lifted, meaning they were not forced into dormancy through refrigeration), bundling and wrapping them in clear plastic. After culling out some of the dead and weaker trees, a little more than 2400 seedlings were prepared for planting.
Because this is an experimental trial, the trees were planted at high density (2000 stems per hectare) mostly to mitigate any loss from mortality, but also to produce tall straight stems. The seed came from the West Kootenays of British Columbia, so it is expected that the trees will be reasonably tolerant of the ALRF climate and snowpack.
Our seedlings are now over 4 months old! Planted just before Christmas, the Western larch are a whopping 8 inches tall and the grow lights have been reduced before they are planted in early June.
The Western yellow cedar are showing their secondary growth – actual cedar leaves! They are still under the grow lights and will continue to live in the greenhouse until they are ready to plant this fall.
Both sets of trees are growing in the greehouse attached to UNBC’s Enhance Forestry Laboratory. If the climate change predictions are accurate, these species should grow very well here in the future, but the question is how well can these species survive in the short-term? By planting experimental trials we can monitor their growth and development at the Research Forest and come up with some answers that might help future forest management decision-making.
This spring and summer, ALRFS staff will be planning and implementing small stand management treatments to mitigate forest fire and safety risks posed by dead trees on UNBC Campus. Planned and supervised by Mike Jull, professional forester and manager of the ALRF, these treatments will focus on a total of around 5 hectares of beetle-killed pine stands plus any scattered unsafe trees along campus road sides and parking lots. A consultation process for the UNBC campus will be conducted through the last half of April and the tree removal will occur in June and July.
More information about these campus forest management activities will be available on the UNBC Facilities website.