THE PROTECTION OF NATURAL REGENERATION
After preferring artificial regeneration or cutting areas for a long time, Quebec has decidedly opted for silviculture methods designed to foster the natural regeneration of stands: selective cutting, progressive cutting, strip cutting, gap felling, etc.
Done with care, taking into account the requirements of forest species to be regenerated and competing vegetation to be overcome, the envisaged cutting encourages the establishment of dense and quality stands. In addition, protecting young trees (8 to 10 years old) in the undergrowth speeds up the next harvest. Besides, in places where the density of the canopy inhibits the establishment of new stems, a regeneration cutting or commercial lighting helps to rectify the situation while at the same time providing a volume of trees which would otherwise be lost, partially at least, before the final harvest.
It goes without saying that the selection cutting (or selection thinning), practiced in a stand of uneven aged hardwood has similar effects on natural regeneration and enables the harvesting of quality wood produced at low cost. Quebec does not, however, exclude all artificial regeneration. It continues to be used to rehabilitate areas devastated by fire when sources of seeds fail, to enrich stands with precious seeds in order to accelerate the establishment of a natural stand of greater quality and to rebuild stands of grey pine whose regeneration is more arbitrary given that the intense heat required for their seeds to take root are rare in our climate. Classical silviculture methods were first conceived to ensure the optimal renewal of stands and improve the quality of stems. However, they can easily be adjusted to take current concerns into account: environmental protection, maintaining biodiversity and respecting the multiple uses of the forest environment.
The natural approach used by the ministère des Ressources naturelles will also make it possible to clean up the stands and obtain trees that are both more robust and less vulnerable to disease and insects. It is thus completely consistent with the forest protection strategy. Without doubt, this return to more "gentle" silvilculture methods places Quebec among the most progressive countries as far as silviculture is concerned.