Chief Forester’s Standards for Seed Use Questions and Answers
Prepared November 24, 2004
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Q. What are the Chief Forester’s Standards for Seed Use?
A. These standards describe the requirements for using tree seed when
reforesting Crown land in British Columbia. They include the
requirements for registering, storing, selecting and transferring tree
seed used to establish free growing stands under the Forest and Range
Practice Act (FRPA).
Q. What is the purpose of these standards?
A. To maintain the identity, adaptability, diversity and productivity
of the provinces tree gene resources. These standards ensure that seed
can be tracked from its source to its planting site and that it is
adapted to the environment in which it is planted.
Q. Under what authority did the chief forest establish these
A. Section 169 of the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA),
section 43 of the Forest Planning and Practices Regulation, and
section 32 of the Woodlot Licence Planning and Practices
Q. When do the standards come into effect?
A. April 1, 2005
Q. Will training and additional information on the Standards be
A. Yes. Dates and locations of training session and workshops to be
offered in early 2005 will be posted by the end of the year. Additional
information will also be made available.
Q. To whom do the standards apply?
A. Any person who plants trees or uses direct seeding methods to
establish a free growing stand under FPRA and its regulations. Such
persons include holders of a major licence, community forest agreement,
and woodlot licence agreement issued under the Forest Act, BC
Timber Sales managers, and those to whom reforestation obligations have
been transferred under section 29 of FRPA. The registration standards
also apply to persons who wish to register seed for use by those
Q. Do these standards apply to private forestland?
A. Only private forestland that is subject to FPRA, such as private
land within a tree farm license and a woodlot licence. This is also the
case for other requirements prescribed under FRPA.
Q. How are these standards different from the seed use requirements
under the Forest Practice Code?
A. These standards represent an updated consolidation of the
regulations, guidebooks and ministry policies that were in place under
the Code. Registration and storage requirements have been clarified, and
increased operational flexibility for seed selection and transfer has
Q. Were stakeholder issues and concerns given due consideration in
developing these standards?
A. Yes. These standards were developed in consultation with forest
sector representatives over the past two years. Input was provided by
licensees, Forest Genetics Council of BC, BC Tree Seed Dealers
Association, and the Forest Nursery Association of BC.
Q. Why are the standards written in such legal terms and
A. The standards are part of FRPA’s legal framework. As such they
have the weight and force of law. The standards have therefore been
written in a manner consistent with other regulations and to provide for
consistency in their interpretation and application.
Q. Why are these seed use requirements described as chief forester
standards and not as regulations or guidelines?
A. The tree seed used to establish new forests has a significant
influence on the health and productivity of those forests. Inappropriate
use of seed can result in the reduced growth, increased susceptibility
to insects, disease, frost or snow press, or the death of the trees.
Collecting, identifying, storing and transferring seed requires a
specialized knowledge of the biology and genetics of the tree
Detailed scientific and technical information is not
usually found in regulation. Guidelines do not provide for a strong
compliance and enforcement regime. Government therefore conferred
responsibility to the chief forester, as the province’s pre-eminent
forester and steward of Crown’s tree gene resources, to establish those
standards that he deems necessary and appropriate to regulate the use of
Q. Can one obtain a variance to the standards through a Forest
A. No. Only the chief forester or his delegate can approve an
alternative to standard if the proposed alternative is consistent with
the intent of the standard. The chief forester has not delegated this
authority to district managers, so alternatives to the standards cannot
be approved through a Forest Stewardship Plan. More information about
application and approval of alternatives will be provided prior the
effective date of the standards.
Q. What kind of seed can be registered?
A. Seedlots and vegetative lots that meet the applicable collection
criteria specified in the standards. These standards include minimum
requirements for genetic diversity and physical quality. Suitable seed
sources include natural stands in BC, identified tested and untested
parent trees established in BC seed orchards, and several species and
sources just south of the US border.
Q. What application form should I use to register seed?
A. The ministry is currently developing an on-line web-based
registration. In the interim, you can use the seed registration forms
(e.g. FS 721) that are available from the Tree Seed
Q. Where does the ministry store information about registered seedlots
and vegetative lots?
A. The Seed
Planning and Registry System an on-line web-based information
system. A government-issued electronic identification is required to
access this system and view lot data.
Q. What are "parent trees" and why must they be identified with the
ministry prior to registering seedlot or vegetative lots collected from
A. A parent tree is a tree that has been selected in the wild or from
a conventional tree breeding program for specific traits, such as
improved growth and form or resistance to insects or disease. These
parent trees are used to produce seed in a seed orchard, or vegetative
material in a stoolbed. Knowledge of the origin and testing history of
parent trees is critical for determining the collection criteria and
transfer limits for lots produced from them.
Q. Why must a lot be collected from at least 10 trees or have a minimum
effective population size of 10?
A. To ensure that lots contain sufficient genetic diversity so
forests established with them are no more at risk from insects, disease,
pests or climatic events than naturally regenerated
Q. Can seed that has been genetically-modified be used for Crown land
Q. Why must seedlots be stored at the Ministry’ s Tree Seed
A. As stewards of the province’s tree gene resources, the ministry is
the custodian of seed used for Crown land reforestation. Highly trained
staff at this modern, well-equipped facility maintains the identify,
accuracy and integrity of seedlot information. The Tree Seed Centre also
performs testing and ensures optimum conditions for long-term seed
storage. These activities coupled with registration serve as BC’s seed
source certification program.
Q. How does one "select" seed?
A. By placing a request to withdraw seed from the ministry's Tree
Seed Centre or vegetative material from a production facility, to grow
trees that will be used to establish a free growing stand. These
requests can be submitted in writing or through the Seed Planning and
Q. What kind of lot must one select?
A. Any available lot that has a genetic worth (GW) of 5% or greater
for a trait that meets the forest management objectives of the stand and
is suitable for the site as determined by its transfer limits. The
criteria for determining a lot’s availability are described in the
Q. How are the transfer limits for lots collected from natural stands
A. Through long-term seed source or provenance tests established and
maintained by the ministry.
Q. Why are the elevation and latitude transfer limits for natural stand
lots skewed higher and further north?
A. Research has demonstrated that seed sources perform better when
moved higher in elevation and further north, than they do when moved
down in elevation and further south. This phenomenon occurs because
trees that are physiologically adapted to colder climates do not respond
to more favourable growing conditions.
Q. How are the transfer limits for lots collected from tested parent
A. The limits for a lot collected from tested parent trees (usually
from a seed orchard) are based on the area(s) where the parent tree or
its progeny have been tested or demonstrated to be adapted and perform
Q. What happens if a lot is planted outside its transfer
A. The trees may grow at a slower rate or be more susceptible to
insects, disease, and weather events, or even die. Generally, the
greater the distance trees are moved beyond their transfer limits, the
greater the risk.
Q. Can the transfer limits be exceeded for operational reasons?
A. The standards allow a licensee or BCTS manager to plant up to 5%
of all the trees they plant outside their respective transfer limits on
an annual basis – and without need of an approved alternative. For
licensees, this provision applies to individual licenses. For BCTS
managers, this provision applies to all timber sale licences within a
single management unit (TFL or TSA). The latter provides BCTS managers
with a similar level of operational flexibility as a major
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