Ontario’s Natural Selections

Seed orchards managed in partnership with local agencies are a key source of genetically appropriate, high-quality seed for Ontario growers and restoration programs.

Ontario’s Natural Selections is a voluntary certification program for woody species. Seed and plants sold under this label are certified by the Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA) to be from the source identified on the label. The consumer can then decide how appropriate it is for their planting project. We hope this program will help plantings in southern Ontario survive and thrive. This program will add resilience in the face of climate change and restore the many benefits we expect from our forests, both rural and urban. It is a 3-part program. The FGCA will:

  • Educate consumers about successful planting practices, of which source-identified seed is a start.
  • Encourage seed collectors and growers to supply and market high-quality source-identified seed and stock, and
  • Administer the program with a system of documentation, registration, inspection and auditing.

The FGCA launched the program in the fall of 2000, with workshops to certify seed collectors. The next step is to certify seed, seed processors, growers and seedlings.

Why Certify Seed Source?

Restorationists and forest managers are increasingly aware that the right seed source is key to long-term economic and ecological success of planting efforts. However, unlike stock quality (size and health), genetic quality (seed source) cannot be observed by the consumer. Seed source right now is a matter of trust. We want it to be a matter of certification of those who handle the product – from seed to seedling. Certification can help consumers get the most appropriate stock for their planting projects. It can also give seed collectors and growers an advantage in marketing their product.

Certification does not guarantee physiological quality (e.g., germination rate of seed, or size and health of a seedling). And purchasers must still match the appropriate species and seed source to the planting site. As such consumer education about other aspects of successful planting is part of the FGCA’s program – the wrong seed source is only one of many reasons for planting failures.

Ontario Tree Seed Zone Map