1.6 billion. That is how many trees West Fraser has planted since 1955. Planted in a row, these trees would stretch around the world 80 times. We plant many more trees than we harvest, almost 60 million every year. Every hectare we harvest we reforest with a similar mix of tree types by planting seedlings, supporting natural regeneration, or by directly seeding the area. Reforesting the land we harvest enables our renewable resource industry to be sustainable.
You may not be aware of how a Company like West Fraser gets the trees we need to replant what we harvest. While there are many steps to sustainable forest management, successful reforestation simply enough begins with the tree seed. Gathering enough seeds each year to grow millions of seedlings is a huge undertaking, and an interesting story.
Where do all our seeds come from?
In Western Canada, West Fraser primarily produces wood products from spruce, pine, and fir. For these tree types, the seeds come from their cones. Certain pine trees for example, have hard cones and rely on forest fire to be able to regenerate new pine trees. Fire is required to crack open these strong cones and release the seeds so they embed into the forest floor. Other types of pine cones have adapted to open as they fall to the ground, particularly when the weather is warm. If you listen carefully on a hot day, you might hear the sound of clicking in the forest, as pine cones start opening up. Other trees, such as the alpine fir, have cones that open up as they fall to the ground without the need for heat.
We are regularly in the forest observing the trees as part of the process of developing our sustainable forest harvesting plans. We look for the healthiest trees in the areas where we harvest and collect cones from them. These are the seeds we will use in our seedling nurseries to ensure healthy seedlings grow in the same areas and elevations that we harvest, from the same trees that thrived there.