A major seed distribution plant in Angus is being shut down by the provincial government.

The Angus Seed Plant once provided all of the seeds used in reforestation efforts across the province. It currently operates at 20 per cent capacity.

But come next year, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry plans to shut it down.

“We are going to be moving out of an industrial size plant to a native tree seed genetic archive,” says Ken Durst, regional services manager for the MNRF. “That’s going to be focused on biodiversity and climate change science.”

The tree seed plant has been in operation since 1923. Seeds are extracted, sorted, tested and stored in freezers.

The province is looking to the private sector to do this work in the future. But the nurseries that grow the trees say the seed plant is hard to replace.

“The equipment is specialized, the employees have a unique set of skills to do that in a 12 month time frame, which is what we are being told, is almost impossible,” says Dave Harbec, Somerville Nurseries.

Seed customers say they were not consulted before the decision was made to close the facility.

Forests Ontario says the seed plant is still the corner stone of tree planting efforts across southern Ontario and a new plan is needed ASAP.

“How we are going to get through this transition over the short term and how are we going to identify those capacity issues over the long term to make sure we don't lose the capacity the tree plant has provided for so long?” says Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario. 

Ministry staff says the plant will only process seeds for existing clients this fall and will not collect any more seed for its own seed bank.

The seeds in cold storage will be used to stock the new genetic archive.