Published On: Friday, 23 February 2018

Campbell River Nurseries Growing Trees and Jobs

Campbell River Nurseries Growing Trees and Jobs
Two Campbell River nurseries produce seedlings that preserve the province's forest industry and jobs.

Contributed by the Campbell River Forestry Taskforce.
CAMPBELL RIVER - Two local tree nurseries producing millions of seedlings each year are securing future forests and future jobs in the forest industry.

Private and public forest companies are required by legislation to reforest harvested or fire loss areas in British Columbia. Pacific Reforestation Technologies (PRT) and Sylvan Vale help supply seedlings for the estimated 17 million seedlings planted every year on BC’s coast.

In Black Creek, three generations of the same family have been growing trees at the Sylvan Vale nursery since 1980. The parents of the current managers, twin sisters Lola Elder and Siriol Paquet, established the nursery in a converted garage and sheep barn.

Thirty-eight years later, the nursery has expanded to 18.5 hectares of growing space with 46 greenhouses.

PRT operates 15 nurseries in Canada and the United States. PRT Campbell River has the capacity to grow 15 million seedlings in 40 greenhouses on 100 hectares.

With so many trees and different growing regimes, PRT nursery manager James Farrer finds the biggest challenge to be, “keeping on top of all the decisions that need to be made on a daily and weekly basis. Plants don’t wait for us. We have to work their schedule.”

“I rely on logging plans and ecology data to predict seedling needs,” says Taisa Brown, a registered professional forester with Western Forest Products. “We choose genetically suitable seed for the climate and ecological conditions of the planting area,” Brown adds.

The nursery prepares the seed for germination by mimicking natural conditions and breaking seed dormancy. Seeds are sown into cells of Styrofoam trays with a peat moss growing medium. The whole process is mechanized, and it’s possible to sow more than 4,500 trays per day.

“The system saves time, provides better monitoring, and controls the environment,” says Farrer.

Once contract size requirements are met, the seedlings are lifted for immediate fall planting or winter storage. The seedlings are removed from the trays, graded for quality, bundled, wrapped, and boxed during a relatively short window.

The nurseries run two shifts, one during the day and one at night, to lift all the trees on time. Between PRT and Sylvan Vale, more than 100 additional employees are hired for this peak season.

“The local nurseries are doing more than just growing seedlings and ensuring sustainable forest practices,” Brown says. “They also grow Campbell River’s economy and provide employment opportunities.”

For more information on the nurseries or employment opportunities, visit Pacific Reforestation Technologies website website, Sylvan Vale website, or North Island Employment Foundations Society website.