B.C. plants seven-billionth tree

On average, about 200 million seedlings are planted each year in British Columbia

To commemorate the International Day of Forests, B.C. has planted its seven-billionth tree at the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson announced on March 21.

The seven-billionth tree, a western white pine, marks a major milestone for reforestation in the province. The province has sown 241 million seeds for planting in 2013. British Columbia uses a mix of over 20 different native tree species, which helps ensure adaptable, resilient and diverse habitats.

The western white pine species is a success story in tree improvement research. Once widespread across southern B.C, the introduction of white pine blister rust in 1914 made the species uneconomical.

Collaborative research between the Canadian and B.C. forest services and industry created a successful breeding program to reintroduce a more rust-resistant white pine. White pine from the breeding program is fast-growing, adaptable to a wide range of locations, and cost-effective for reforestation programs. The species is being planted in B.C.’s forests, improving biodiversity and timber supply.

On average, about 200 million seedlings are planted each year in British Columbia. Wildfire and mountain pine beetle impacted areas are prioritized through the Forests for Tomorrow program, which has surveyed over 1.3 million hectares and planted over 80 million seedlings on more than 61,000 hectares since 2005. An $11-million provincial fertilization program will begin in 2014, fertilizing about 21,000 hectares and producing an additional 460,000 cubic metres of timber.

“Planting our seven-billionth tree is an incredible accomplishment and shows how hard we work to reforest the land. International Day of Forests was created to promote sustainable forest management, and I’m proud to say that B.C.’s forest sector is a global leader,” said Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.

B.C.’s reforestation programs began in 1930 and reached the first billion trees planted mark in 1981. Since then, a ceremonial planting has been made for every billion trees planted.

The second-billion mark was planted in Surrey in 1989; the third billion in Kamloops in 1993; the fourth billion at the Campbell River Museum in 1997; and the fifth at the Prince George Exhibition grounds in 2002. The sixth-billionth tree was planted just four years ago at Knox Mountain Park in Kelowna.

“The western white pine is a good choice for B.C.’s seven-billionth tree. It’s a tree that showcases the years of research done by many people to create a disease resistant, high-value, and productive tree. The Malcolm Knapp Research Forest is pleased to have this tree as an example of the great work being done for sustainable forestry in B.C,” stated Dr. Yousry El-Kassaby, forest resources management department head, UBC faculty of forestry.