From Plantation to Natural Forest
Across the Credit River Watershed, plantation forests are used to jump start the establishment of natural forests on open land. When first planted, hardy species such as spruce and pine are used to stabilize and refresh the soil. With management, these trees will create conditions for other forest species to grow and eventually become a natural forest ecosystem.
We’re working on our properties and with private landowners to develop plantation management plans to improve the health of plantation forests and support the transition to natural forests.
Plantation Management Projects
Update: Our work at Credit River Pine Estates in Erin was completed in March 2022.
Update: Our work at Robert Baker Forest Conservation Area in Erin was completed in January 2023.
Update: Our work at Caledon Creek Forest Conservation Area in Caledon was completed in January 2023.
Our work near Alton Forest Conservation Area started on October 19, 2023. There is now active harvest operations in the Alton Forest plantations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Reviews answers to frequently asked questions about plantation forest management.
A forest plantation is a manmade forest that requires management to reach a healthy and natural state. Trees are planted close together to promote proper growth and form from a young age. But as the trees grow, the canopy begins to close, shading the forest floor and reducing growing space between trees.
Management is essential for keeping plantations healthy. As trees grow, they become crowded and stressed which makes them more susceptible to insect infestation and disease. Trees can also become frail and prone to wind and ice damage. Management reduces competition, improves tree health and increases species diversity. Without management, plantations may never reach the naturalized forests that many were intended to be.
Thinning is the process of cutting down some trees from the plantation site to allow more sunlight to reach the forest floor and encourage the growth of native trees and plants. Thinning the plantation every 10 – 20 years creates more growing space and gives remaining trees more access to resources while felling those that are diseased and unhealthy. Some plantations may be thinned four, five or more times until a healthy, native, future forest is established.
Maintaining healthy plantations decreases their vulnerability to invasive species and wildfires. Healthy plantations can more effectively capture carbon to help combat climate change. A diversity of native trees is also important to a forest’s ability to cope with a changing climate.
When we conduct a thinning in a plantation, we limit our activities around creeks and wetlands, known nesting and denning sites, and other significant habitat in order to minimize impact to wildlife. We also conduct operations outside of critical periods like during the nesting period for migratory birds.
Restoring natural forest habitat is a key goal of plantation management.
There may be some machine noise including chainsaws and heavy equipment as well as the presence of log trucks on roads adjacent to the plantations during operational hours.