UBC Undergraduate Research

Western larch reforestation in British Columbia : opportunity and guidance for expansion by assisted migration to southern interior ecosystems of B.C. Nash, Robert


Western larch (Larix occidentalis Nutt.) is a vigorous tree species in interior (Kootenay) ecosystems of British Columbia. Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) has been extensively planted as monocultures across the BC interior for many decades and concerns over future forest health and productivity have arisen as many of these lodgepole pine stands have succumb to many damaging agents past “free to grow” status (Mather, et al. 2010). New forest management policies that include western larch reforestation and expansion through assisted migration should be developed in order to diversify our species selection for reforestation in the BC interior. Western larch has many advantages over lodgepole pine which include higher productivity on certain sites and greater wood qualities that fit in well with diversifying our ecosystems and increasing the value of our future timber supply. The Kamloops Future Forest Initiative and the Wood First Initiative are two projects that can streamline the growth and expansion of western larch reforestation into interior ecosystems and forest management plans. There are numerous examples of western larch growing well on sites around Merritt and Kamloops BC which demonstrate the species can adapt well to certain sites out of its natural range. In this paper I discuss why foresters and forest policy makers should enable flexibility in stocking standards for western larch and discuss issues of increasing western larch reforestation in the BC interior.

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