Assisted Migration Adaptation Trial


Approximately 200 million seedlings are planted in BC each year. When those trees are harvested 60-80 years after they are planted, the climate could be 3-4 degrees warmer than when the seedlings were planted, exposing the trees to maladaptation and health risks. Consequently, Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations researchers have initiated a large, long-term climate change research study - the Assisted Migration Adaptation Trial (AMAT) - to better understand tree species’ climate tolerances. 

Seeds from 15 species growing in BC and neighbouring US states were planted between 2009 and 2012 at 48 reforestation sites from northern California to southern Yukon. Their growth and health will be monitored, and related to the climate of the plantations, enabling researchers to identify the seed sources most likely to be best adapted to current and future climates. The information will be used to revise BC’s species and seed source selection guidelines, helping to ensure maximum health and productivity of BC’s planted forests well into the future.

Click to see larger image.

  Bl - sub-alpine fir - Abies lasiocarpa
Ba - amabilis fir - Abies amabilis
Bg - grand fir - Abies grandis
Cw - Western redcedar - Thuja plicata
Cy - Yellow cedar - Callitropsis nootkatensis
Hw - western hemlock - Tsuga heterophylla
At - trembling aspen - Populus tremuloides
Ep - paper birch - Betula papyrifera
Ss - Sitka spruce - Picea sitchensis
Sx - interior spruce - Picea glauca X P. engelmannii
Lw - Western larch - Larix occidentalis
Fd - Douglas-fir - Pseudotsuga menziesii
Pli - lodgepole pine - Pinus contorta
Pw - white pine - Pinus monticola
Py - ponderosa pine - Pinus ponderosa

Click to see larger map.

AMAT and selected assisted migration articles

Pedlar, J.H., D.W. McKenney, I. Aubin, T. Beardmore, J. Beaulieu, L. Iverson, G.A. O'Neill, R.S. Winder, and C. Ste-Marie. 2012. Placing Forestry in the Assisted Migration Debate. Bioscience 62(9):835-842 [Link]

Wang, T., E.M. Campbell, G.A. O'Neill, and S.N. Aitken. 2012. Projecting future distributions of ecosystem climate niches: Uncertainties and management applications. For. Ecol. Manage. 279:128-140 [Link]

Kranabetter, J.M., M.U. Stoehr, and G.A. O'Neill. 2012. Divergence in ectomycorrhizal communities with foreign Douglas-fir populations and implications for assisted migration. Ecological Applications 22(2):550-560 [Link]

Leech, S.M., P.L. Almuedo, and G. O'Neill. 2011. Assisted Migration: Adapting forest management to a changing climate. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management 12(3):18-34. [PDF 303 kb]

Ukrainetz, N.K., G.A. O'Neill, and B. Jaquish. 2011. Comparison of fixed and focal point seed transfer systems for reforestation and assisted migration: a case study for interior spruce in British Columbia. Can. J. For. Res. 41(7):1452-1464. [Link]

Pedlar, J., D. McKenney, J. Beaulieu, S. Colombo, J. McLachlan, and G. O'Neill. 2011. The implementation of assisted migration in Canadian forests. For. Chron. 87(6):766-777 [Link]

O'Neill, G., V. Berger, M. Carlson, and N. Ukrainetz. 2013. Assisted migration Bulletin. B.C. Min. For., Lands and Nat. Resourc. Ops., Tree Improve. Br. [PDF 2055 kb]

O'Neill, G.A., M.R. Carlson, V. Berger, and N.K. Ukrainetz. 2008. Assisted migration adaptation trial: Workplan (updated January 2013). B.C. Min. For. Range, Res. Br. [PDF 140 kb]

Johnston, M., S. Webber, G.A. O'Neill, T. Williamson, and K. Hirsch. 2009. Climate change impacts and adaptation strategies for the forest sector in Canada. In 2nd Climate Change Technology Conference, 12-15 May, 2009. Hamilton, ON. Engineering Institute of Canada. [PDF 373 kb]

O'Neill, G.A., M.R. Carlson, V. Berger, and N.K. Ukrainetz. 2013. British Columbia's assisted migration adaptation trial: powerpoint presentation. B.C. Min. For., Lands and Nat. Resourc. Ops., Tree Improve. Br. [PDF 1419 kb]

O'Neill, G.A., N.K. Ukrainetz, M.R. Carlson, C.V. Cartwright, B.C. Jaquish, J.N. King, J. Krakowski, J.H. Russell, M.U. Stoehr, C-Y. Xie, and A.D. Yanchuk. 2008. Assisted migration to address climate change in British Columbia: recommendations for interim seed transfer standards. B.C. Min. For. Range, Res. Br., Victoria, B.C. Tech. Rep. 048. [PDF 6286 kb]

O'Neill, G.A., Carlson, M., Berger, V., and Ukrainetz, N.K. 2008. Assisted migration adaptation trial. TICtalk 9: 3-4. [PDF 410 kb]

O'Neill, G.A., Carlson, M.R., Berger, V., and Yanchuk, A.D. 2007. Responding to climate change: assisting seedlot migration to maximize adaptation of future forest plantations. Ticktalk 8: 9-12. [PDF 510 kb]


AMAT in the news

CBC Radiowest July 3, 2012

National Geographic, July 2012 (item PDF 1088 kb)

Revelstoke Times Aug 16, 2011

Canadian Geographic article, July-August 2012

Associated press article

CBC TV National News documentary (ID=1304320319) (13 minutes)

Marris, E. 2009. Planting the forest of the future. Nature 459:906-908.

O'Neill, G.A. 2009. Meet the AMAT. BC Forest Service News 6(2):8. [PDF 969 kb]

Ukrainetz, N.K. and O'Neill, G.A. 2009. Adapting to adaptation: assisted migration addresses climate change. BC Forest Professional 16: 16-17. [PDF 336 kb]

Ministry Contacts

Greg O'Neill, Research Scientist
Michael Carlson, Research Scientist
Vicky Berger, Research Technician
Nicholas Ukrainetz, Research Scientist


Click to see larger image.
Happy AMAT planters at the Barnhartvale test site (Kamloops).
  Click to see larger image.
To assess growth and adaptation of BC's reforestation materials in BC's future climates, seedlots are tested across a wide climate range. Shown here are seedlings being planting at one of the hottest and driest test sites - the Kalamalka Research Station (Vernon).
Click to see larger image.
Seedlings for the AMAT are labelled, sorted, lifted, bundled and cold stored prior to planting.
  Click to see larger image.
AMAT seedlings being labelled prior to lifting in the nursery.


  1. Alberta Forest Service
  2. Ardew Wood Products
  3. ATCO Wood Products
  4. BC Timber Sales
  5. Brinkman Forest Ltd.
  6. Coast Tsimshian Resources
  7. Federated Coop
  8. Inland Empire Paper Company
  9. Inland Empire Tree Improvement Coop
  10. Island Timberlands
  11. Landmark Solutions
  12. Louisiana Pacific Canada
  13. Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation
  14. Sierra Pacific Industries
  15. State of Alaska, DNR, Division of Forestry
  16. Stella-Jones Inc.
  17. Tembec
  18. Tolko
  19. Tree Improvement Branch
  20. UBC Alex Fraser Research Forest
  21. UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest
  22. USDA FS - Deschutes National Forest
  23. USDA FS - Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  24. USDA FS - Mendocino National Forest
  25. USDA FS - PNW Research Station
  26. USDA FS - Priest River Experimental Forest
  27. USDA FS - Rocky Mountain Research Station
  28. USDA FS - Tahoe National Forest
  29. West Fraser Timber Company
  30. Western Forest Products
  31. Weyerhaueser Canada
  32. Weyerhaueser USA
  33. Yukon Energy Mines and Resources


Ministry Contact: Greg O'Neill
Please direct questions regarding webpage to
Updated January 2013