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To ensure sustainable management of our forest ecosystems, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) maintains a network of permanent sample plots (PSPs) across the province. These PSPs give us a better understanding of stand dynamics – how trees grow and stands change over time. This information is key to determining sustainable timber harvesting and monitoring forest health.
There are approximately 1,200 PSP locations, each containing single or multiple plots. Trees in each plot are tagged and re-measured every 5 to 20 years for growth, mortality and damage, to monitor forest health and development. The earliest plots have been continuously measured since 1960, though the majority were established in the 1980s.
AF is an active participant in the Provincial Growth and Yield Initiative (PGYI). Under this agreement, forestry companies and AF contribute their PSP data to a single, shared dataset. AF data are available on request and are regularly used for forest growth modelling, inventory and research.
Each participant is assigned priority PSPs to ensure all forest types are properly sampled. PGYI data are maintained by the Forest Growth Organization of Western Canada.
The Government of Alberta’s PSP database is available to the public. Please submit requests to [email protected].
Maintenance Sheets and Field Maps
Maintenance sheets and maps (1:5000 & 1:20000) can be provided on request for AFS, SDS and FMB plots.
PSP’s are surrounded by protective reservations marked by blue-painted bands on trees facing outward. Blue “PSP” or “Permanent Sample Plot” flagging may also be present. Reservations are 2-10 ha in size (140 – 320 m per side); some research trials are larger. No tree cutting, vegetation removal or soil disturbance is permitted inside of these reservations; penalties are pursued under the Public Lands Act for any unauthorized damage.
These plots can be held under one of the following disposition types:
- Disposition Reservation (DRS)
- Parks Reservation (PRS)
- Consultative Notation (CNT)
- Protective Notation (PNT)
Clients applying to utilize Crown land must obtain a land standing listing (of activities on Crown land within an area defined by a legal description) from the Geographic Land Information Planning System (GLIMPS).
The following PSP manuals describe the current sampling protocols for PSP measurements and tree sectioning:
- Alberta Government Forestry Permanent Sample Plots (coming in September 2020)
- Tree Sectioning Manual and Tally Sheets (1988) (PDF, 6.9 MB)
The geospatial data for the permanent and research plots is available at:
The geospatial data includes a variety of information by plot including plot number, type and subtype, current status, reserve number, size (ha/ac), Lat/Long, XY co-ordinates by UTM, ATS description and contact information.
Permanent Sample Plot information is provided solely for the user's information and, while thought to be accurate, is provided strictly "as is" and without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. GPS/maps accuracy is 3 to 50 metres.
The onus is on the company/individual to locate any plots prior to conducting any activity near these dispositions. The Crown, its agents, employees or contractors will not be liable to you for any damages, direct or indirect, or lost profits or data arising out of your use of information provided at this site.
Note: Not all the sample plots within the Province of Alberta on crown land are listed on the spatial dataset provided. It is the sole responsibility of the company/individual that is conducting the activity to make certain that their activities are not disturbing a sample plot. A GLIMPS search is the preferred method of detecting reservations within 400m of any proposed activity.
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