Cover stories: Volume 109 Issue 6

The cover image for our June issue shows white pine trees at the oldest forest research plot in Canada – this species being considered for assisted migration efforts in this region. This image relates to the research article: Critical seed transfer distances for selected tree species in eastern North America by Pedlar, McKenney & Lu.

Lead author, John Pedlar, delves into the history of this Canadian Research Forest, which was established over 100 years ago, and remains an innovation hub for sustainable forest management and scientific research.

This article is also part of our new cross-journal Special Focus: Plant translocations and climate change: bioassay, surveillance and solution to a global threat


Cover image: White pine (Pinus strobus) trees in the morning mist at the oldest forest research plot in Canada, located in the Petawawa Research Forest in eastern Ontario. This species is one of several that are being considered for assisted migration efforts in this region. Critical seed transfer distances have been developed to help guide these efforts. Photograph: Jeff Fera, Natural Resources Canada.

Our cover image shows a stand of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) in the early morning mist at the Petawawa Research Forest in Ontario, Canada. The trees shown here are located on “Permanent Sample Plot #1”, which was established in 1918 – making it the oldest forest research plot in Canada! We selected this picture to accompany our recent Journal of Ecology article that examined critical seed transfer distances for white pine and several other North American tree species. For this research, we employed provenance data from a wide range of locations, including the Petawawa Research Forest, to elucidate reasonable limits on the movement of seeds and seedlings for assisted migration efforts under climate change. The dark shadows and mist in the picture are fitting symbols for the uncertainty surrounding future climate and quality of life on our planet, while the sun represents the hope that we will find a way forward.

Map of percent forest cover across Canada, showing location of the Petawawa Research Forest (inset).

The Petawawa Research Forest (PRF) is located approximately 200 kilometers northwest of the nation’s capital (Ottawa, Ontario). PRF is a 10,000 ha forest that has been a centre for sustainable forest management and scientific research for over 100 years – making it the largest and oldest research forest in Canada. Managed by the Canadian Forest Service, PRF provides a secure land base for short and long-term studies, openly accessible research data, and on-the-ground knowledge exchange. Early research at PRF focused on fire behaviour and management, forest genetics, and the development of silvicultural best practices. A key accomplishment from this period was the development of Canada’s first Forest Fire Hazard System, which has since been refined and employed in fire warning systems around the world.

(Left) Two forest researchers installing a permanent sample plot at the PRF in 1919. (Right) Fine fuel combustion test at PRF. Photographs: Natural Resources Canada.

In recent years, PRF has emerged as an innovation hub for new forest management technologies, including research aimed at incorporating remote sensing products into strategic and operational forest management planning. In 2021, researchers at PRF are installing an experimental trial as part of the Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) program. This effort, the first of its kind in Canada, will provide operational-scale examples of how silvicultural techniques can be adapted to improve the resistance and resilience of future forests to climate change.

(Left) LiDAR image of an eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) at PRF. (Middle) Establishment of an Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) treatment plot at PRF in 2021. (Right) Tour of a biomass harvesting study at PRF in 2014. Photographs: Murray Woods & Jeff Fera, Natural Resources Canada.

As a living laboratory and legacy for scientists, forestry professionals, students, and nature enthusiasts alike, the research forest is as important today as it has ever been.

John H. Pedlar Great Lakes Forestry Centre, Ontario, Canada


You can read the full article by Pedlar, McKenney & Lu here: Critical seed transfer distances for selected tree species in eastern North America

Read all the articles in our cross-journal Special Focus on Plant translocations and climate change: bioassay, surveillance and solution to a global threat

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