expected that the land base of today's productive forest will increase. There
are, however, ways to increase the amount of timber produced by Alberta's forests. One of the areas
in which research is vigorously pursued is the
development of genetically improved trees for more rapid reforestation. The
science of forest genetics is the study of heredity variations in trees. Alberta
began a genetics and tree improvement program in 1976. Today there are 12 seed
orchards and a large number of well-established research trials. Four more seed
orchards are planned for the future.
improved trees will be used in future reforestation programs. Comprehensive
genetic tree improvement and improved seed production programs are currently in
place for the major conifer species. In time, tree geneticists expect to develop
trees that are thicker, taller and straighter than today's trees. They will
accomplish this through selection, cross-breeding and propagation techniques.
Improved reforestation stock is planted to establish new forests that will
produce more wood of better quality, and in less time. Initial expectations are
that improved seed will bring timber yield increases of five percent for white
spruce, and 10 percent for lodgepole pine. Over the next few decades, advanced
tree varieties will be developed with increased pest resistance, climatic
hardiness, and timber yield increases that may be in the range of 20 to 40
Department of the Environment. State of the Environment Report, Terrestrial Ecosystems. Edmonton: n.p., 2001. With permission from Alberta Environment.