The encouragement of oak regeneration is one of the key goals prescribed in the High Park management plan. Due to past management in High Park, natural oak regeneration has been suppressed in many areas of the park for many years. Currently there are many locations in the park where mature oak trees are aging and there are no younger saplings to take their place.
Since the regeneration and replacement of older oak trees are essential in sustaining an oak savannah in the long term, oak regeneration has become a restoration focus in High Park. Black oaks have evolved in fire-dependant systems. As a result, they are moderately resistant to fire and have varying levels of resistance at different age/sizes.
Younger oaks are more sensitive to fire until they can develop a deep taproot root system. When oak saplings are exposed to fire, the top portion of the tree is burned off, invigorating the root to resprout and send out larger new growth. If oak seedlings have not had enough time to develop these deep taproots, frequent fires may have more of a negative result potentially killing the tree all together. Adult trees develop thick bark that can withstand natural burning.
Combined with many years of drought and a number of insect infestations, black oak populations in southern Ontario have been in decline. In fall 2006 many of the oaks in High Park produced large numbers of acorns, quantities which haven’t been seen since 2002. As a result, in the 2007 season large numbers of naturally regenerating oak seedlings were observed.
There are now also approximately 25 ha of oak regeneration zones in High Park where planting programs have attempted to increase the number of oak seedlings. To encourage the health and growth of both planted seedlings, and naturally regenerating oaks in High Park, areas of oak regeneration will not be burned for a period of time to allow new seedlings time to become established before being burned sometime in the future.
Source: Forestry Notice April 2008
Some oaks have been planted in special tubes that help keep them from drying out and protect them from squirrel predation and other hazards.
See also Acorns