Forest Investment Account

Abstract of FIA Project 6353002

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Establishment of a native seed industry for the west coast of British Columbia

Author(s): Vaartnou, Manivalde
Subject: British Columbia, Agriculture, Ecology, Forestry, Physiology
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Land Base Investment Program - Innovative


Since the 1970's, the use of native plants has often been suggested as a potential answer to problems associated with revegetation of disturbed areas. However, native seed for large-scale reclamation purposes has neither been available in sufficient quantity, nor at a reasonable price. Thus, from April, 1996 to March, 2001, Forest Renewal British Columbia provided the funding for this long-term applied research program to determine the utility of native Vancouver Island grasses in restoration of disturbed areas, and ultimately provide a source of native grass seed for use on Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland coast. Subsequently, funding to continue the program has been provided by the BC Ministry of Forests, TimberWest Forest Ltd., Canadian Forest Products Ltd., International Forest Products Ltd., Weyerhaeuser Company Ltd., and Western Forest Products Inc. Funding for the 2004/05 fiscal year was provided by the latter three companies.
This report is the annual progress report for the 2004/05 fiscal year. This was the ninth year of a ten year program. The report describes the activities undertaken from March 1, 2004 to February 28, 2005. These consisted of fill planting, maintenance and seed harvesting at the Seed Increase Nursery; evaluation of the existing trial, demonstration and operational sites; assessment, maintenance and harvesting of the Seed Production plots; fall seeding to replace three unsuccessful Seed Production plots; cleaning and weighing the seed harvested from the Nursery and Seed Production plots; and various extension activities. As the program is nearing completion, no new trial, demonstration or operational sites were established in 2004. However, surplus seed from the program was used by other organizations to complete habitat enhancement projects at various locations on the west coast.
After completion of field work the 'Daubenmire' field numbers (Daubenmire 1959,1968) were converted to percentages. Biometric analysis of ground cover production from the replicated trial sites indicated that the native grasses produce cover comparable to that produced by introduced, agronomic grasses on the control plots. This has been the case since these plots were established. This part of the program is now complete as all replicated plots have been evaluated for five years. Results from the unreplicated demonstration sites were again strong in 2004, while results from the more recently established operational sites continued to be the strongest in the program.
Seed production on the Seed Production plots was less than in the past. Most plots have been in place for up to six years and many selections have reached the stage where the plants are now sod-bound, and produce minimal seed. These plots will need to be replaced in the future to retain a source of seed until established seed merchants reach the field-scale production stage.
The most successful species continued to be Bromus sitchensis, Deschampsia cespitosa, Deschampsia elongata, Elymus glaucus, Festuca rubra ssp arenicola and Festuca rubra ssp pruinosa. The first step in future field-scale seed production of these species was taken with the establishment of seed multiplication plots in Oregon by Pickseed Canada Inc. in 2004. Other species with potential are Agrostis exarata, Agrostis scabra, Calamagrostis stricta, Elymus trachycaulus and Poa compressa. However, as yet, there is insufficient seed of these species to take the first step in field-scale seed production. Thus, one of the major goals of the final year of the program will be to grow sufficient seed so that seed multiplication for future field-scale seed production of these latter five species can be started in the fall of 2005 or 2006.
Most details of previous activities are not repeated, but can be found in previous years' Final Reports (Vaartnou 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004).

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Updated September 08, 2005 

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