A piece of land in Central Saanich is in many ways one of the embryonic chambers of the provincial forest industry.
The Mount Newton Seed Orchard celebrated its 40th anniversary Wednesday with a family reunion as current and past employees joined forestry insiders to mark the facility’s round birthday with a tour and a lunch.
BC Forest Products and Crown Zellerbach established the 100-acre orchard in 1979 to create seeds for a range of trees.
It has since produced enough seed to grow more than 250 million trees in its four decades of operation.
“This is a proud milestone for our company and a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the many people in our organization and within the Province’s Tree Improvement Program,” Jeff Zweig, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Mosaic Forest Management which operates the facility on behalf of owner Timber West.
The orchard itself contains more than 6,000 established trees, including Douglas-fir, western red cedar, western hemlock and a newly-established western white pine grove, according to a release. The orchard currently produces enough seed to grow eight million Douglas-fir seedlings annually, with a goal of increasing that figure to 12 million over the next 10 years.
The orchard is not just a genetic bank preserving existing species under the Tree Improvement Program, but also contributes to the fight against climate change.
“By continually improving the seed stock, we grow trees that are better adapted to thrive in a changing environment,” said Zweig, a point echoed by Doug Donaldson, minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development. “Reforesting harvested areas provides jobs through silviculture work and tree-planting, and using high-quality tree seed contributes to the resiliency of new stands in the face of climate change,” he said.