Managing Red Pine Plantations

Red pine planting in Ontario dates back to the 1920s. These early reforestation efforts were largely the initiative of the provincial government. Most of the forest cover was removed in the previous century by settlers clearing the land for agriculture. However, large areas of sandy soils throughout southern Ontario could not sustain agricultural practices and this marginal farmland was soon abandoned. To prevent soil erosion, tree planting programs were initiated, and the most suitable species for planting in sandy soils was red pine.

Some of the best examples of red pine plantation management can be found in various Agreement Forests across southern Ontario. The LaRose Forest near Ottawa, the Durham and York Regional Forests near Toronto, and the Hendrie Forest near Barrie were some of the first major red pine plantings.

In the 1960s, the reforestation emphasis shifted from public land to private land with the implementation of the Woodlands Improvement Act (WIA) program. As a result, there are now healthy red pine plantations on both public and private land, ready for harvesting and other management activities. Many of these plantations are now mature and provide the right conditions to restore a more natural forest, as well as critical wildlife habitat. This Extension Note provides details on how to best manage your planned or existing red pine plantation for forest products and environmental benefits.

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