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.
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.