Planting Healthy Forests

The seedlot selection tool (SST) is a GIS mapping program designed to help forest managers match seedlots with planting sites based on climatic information. The tool can be used to map current climates, or future climates based on selected climate change scenarios. Although it is tailored for matching seedlots and planting sites, it can be used by anyone interested in mapping present or future climates defined by temperature and precipitation.

Choose a region...

Highlight the region you want to work within, and then click on a goal.


Select Northwest Region


Select Midwest Region


Select Central Region


Select East Region

Choose a goal...

Choose whether you want to find seedlots or planting sites by clicking below.

Click to see larger example map Purpose

Forest managers can use this tool to help choose seedlots that are appropriate for planting on a particular site, or planting sites that are appropriate for a particular seedlot. This can be done using current climate models (i.e., ignoring potential climate change) or by choosing a climate change model, emissions scenario, and future target year. Because of the uncertainty in climate change projections, the tool is really a planning and educational tool. It can be used to explore alternative future conditions, assess risk, and plan potential responses, but cannot tell the user exactly which seedlots will be optimally adapted to a particular planting site in the future. The tool allows the user to control many input parameters so the results are appropriate for the management practices, climate change assumptions, and risk tolerance of the user.


Populations of trees, such as those from native stands or seed orchards, are genetically different from one another, and are adapted to different climatic conditions. Therefore, forest managers must match the climatic adaptability of their seedlots to the climatic conditions of their planting sites. Typically, this has been done using geographically defined seed zones or breeding zones. However, current climate models are now available that can be used to define zones based on climate, rather than geography. These climate models can also be used to calculate climatically based seed transfer distances and define focal point seed zones. Once acceptable climatic transfer limits have been defined using seed zones, breeding zones, or some other approach, the user can explore how within-species assisted migration might be used to help adapt forests to climate change.

How does the tool work?

To use the tool, the user must first indicate whether they want to find appropriate seedlots for a planting site or appropriate planting sites for a seedlot. After clicking on one of the two buttons at the top of the page, the user will be taken to one of two data entry pages where they will complete steps 2-8 (see figure). Detailed instructions for each step can be found on the Instructions page.

The best way to learn about the tool is to try it. Because the fields on the data entry page contain default values, the first-time user can quickly see how the tool works. To see how maps are generated, select the "seedlot" or "planting site" button at the top of the page, and then click on the "Produce Map" button on the data entry page. Experienced users can overwrite the default values, or login and select a set of values that were saved in a previous session.

How the tool works

1. Select Region

2. Select Goal

Choose to find seedlots for your planting site or planting sites for your seedlot.

3. Login

The optional login feature allows you to store your inputs.

4. Enter Location

You can use Google Maps or coordinates to show the location of your seedlot or planting site.

5. Select Species

You can use species-specific or generic zones and transfer limits.

6. Determine Transfer Limit

Use one of our recommended limits, enter your own limit, or use an existing zone to calculate a limit.

7. Select Climate Models

Use present climate only, or present and future climates by selecting an emissions scenario, future climate model, and year.

8. Apply Constraints to Map

You can limit the extent of your map based on non-climatic factors such as species range, latitude, longitude, and more.

9. Map Results

The resulting map shows where you can find appropriate seedlots or planting sites, now or in the future.


current climate models

A downscaling method applied to larger scale models (GCM or PRISM) for late twentieth century time periods. For example, it may be CGCM 3 run for a scenario for 1971-2001 averages, then downscaled with ANUSPLIN.

climate change model

Global Circulation Model, or GCM, used to make predictions of atmospheric temperature and precipitation in multilayer grid cells of a few degrees longitude/latitude.

emissions scenario

A suite of estimations on factors affecting greenhouse gas emissions, controls, and accumulations, developed by the IPCC, and used to drive climate change models.

future target year

The “year” to use for future predicted climate variables, given a GCM and emission scenario, and downscaling method. Year is actually a range of years, such as 2040-2060, with values averaged over the period and represented as 2050.

seed orchards

breeding zones

focal point seed zones

The collection of locations that fall within the criteria set by the climate space. The focal point is the climatic center of the climate space. The focal point seed zone may be further constrained with geographic or elevation boundaries

Example Result Map

Orange areas indicate best suitability for the stated goal.