Boreal Forest Plant & Seed Technology Access Centre

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)

Peace River, AB


The Centre for Boreal Research is an innovative applied research facility in Peace River, 500 kilometers northwest of Edmonton, staffed with a team of research scientists and technicians with professional designations in forestry, biology and agrology.

The facility is 9,000 square feet, includes two laboratories, office space for 15 people, an outdoor growing space and a three-bay greenhouse that features computer-controlled humidity, temperature and lighting. The Centre for Boreal Research is an Approved Seed Testing Facility. The facility was funded by NAIT, Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, with industry funding from Shell Canada and Penn West Petroleum.

Our mission is to promote the informed use of boreal resources through applied science, education, and partnerships with industry, government agencies, practitioners and academic partners.

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BFPS Dr. Kevin Kemball

Dr. Kevin Kemball
Director of Business Development


BFPS Dr. Jean-Marie Sobze

Dr. Jean-Marie Sobze
Applied Research Chair and Manager


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  1. Optimizing nursery seedling stock quality of native boreal species
  2. Site preparation options
  3. Provide scientific guidance, develop methods and protocols for seed harvesting, handling, enhancement, treatment and determine optimum storage conditions to maintain long-term seed viability.
  4. Develop systems to deploy and improve seed delivery at large scale.
  5. Develop plant and seed delivery businesses within Indigenous and Métis communities to reduce barriers to reforestation and reclamation by training highly qualified personnel (HQP) from these communities.
  6. Provide new or modified equipment to facilitate harvest, handling, and deployment of seeds and other propagules on disturbed sites to increase SME productivity.
  7. Strengthen the industry-business seed supply chain within the region through a Seed Consortium and promote growth of SMEs.

Previous Research Projects:

  • Hitchhiker seedling stock development and deployment on disturbed sites
  • Roots in the bags reforestation
  • Field Testing of Primed-Pelleted Seeds
  • Development of Seed Nano-coatings to Improve Seed Germination, Seedling Growth and Tolerance to Abiotic Stress.
  • Shrub Seed Orchard Development
  • Use of Magnetic Field to Improve Native Seed Germination and Seedling Growth
  • Applying Traditional Knowledge to Reclamation of Industrially Disturbed Boreal Forest
  • Optimizing Seed Grow Mats Seeding Rate
  • Salinity tolerance of regional native plant species and soil amendment potential for reclamation
  • Priming and Pelleting of Boreal Seed for Forest Reclamation
  • Examining the feasibility of terrestrial lichen transplantation and seeding technology for woodland caribou habitat restoration

Fields of projects:

  • Native Seed production
  • Native seed treatment
  • Native plant propagation
  • Reforestation
  • Land reclamation


  1. Agriculture
  2. Energy
  3. Forestry
  4. Mining
  5. Natural Resources


Equipment Function
Seed counter Used for counting seeds
Column blower Often used in the separation of seeds from chaff
Seed Cleaner To separate seeds from the cones by tumbling
Sieve shaker Used in the separation of soil aggregates.
Drying Ovens Often used in the removal of moisture contents of a material
Seed Coater and Pelletizer This equipment is used in coating of seeds by adding materials that adhere to the seed forming pellets of various shapes and sizes.
Soil grinders and mixers This equipment automates the repetitive tasks of grinding and properly mixing soil materials.
Autoclave This is used for sterilization purposes.
Seed Moisture Tester Used in evaluating seed moisture contents before putting in cold storage
Leaf Porometer Device used to measure stomatal conductance in leaves.
SPAD-502 meter Used for the rapid, accurate and non-destructive measurement of leaf chlorophyll concentrations.
Field Scout pH meter Used to measure pH in soils, semi-solids, solids and liquids.
UV spectroscopy Quantitative determination of different analytes for example organic compounds, biological moacromolecules, metal ions etc
Micro Weighing balance An analytical balance so sensitive to detect the mass of a substance in micro units.
pH and EC meter Used to measure hydrogen-ion activity (acidity or alkalinity) in solution. The device also measures the electrical conductivity in a solution.
Hot Plate and Stirrer Used in heating up solutions and also capable of being stirred simultaneously with the aid of a magnetic stirrer.
Water purification system This converts tap water to both ASTM Type 1 and Type 2. The water types are the quantitative specifications that describes the level of purity for the water. This specification is describes by the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials).
Water bath Used to incubate samples in water at a constant temperature over a long period of time.
Germination Chambers These are automatically controlled chambers capable of operating in a set temperature and humidity required for plant propagation.
Growth Chambers These provides suitable atmospheric conditions needed for the efficient and effective germination and propagation of plants.
Root Scanner Estimation of root length, diameter and surface area.
Microscope Used for materials that are tiny or invisible to the human eye.
Greenhouse Control Station Location from which the greenhouse could be automatically or manually controlled to meet desired requirements for example, temperature, light, humidity etc
  • Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)
  • Alberta Regional Caribou Knowledge Partnership (ARCKP)
  • Paramount Resources Ltd.
  • Mercer International
  • Woodmere Nursery Ltd
  • Canfor
  • Forest Growth Organization of Western Canada (FGrOW)
  • Aski Reclamation Ltd
  • West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.