The Petawawa Research Experiment Station was established in 1918 when military authorities asked the Forestry Branch of the federal Department of the Interior to protect and manage the forest of the Petawawa Military Reserve. The government saw it as an opportunity to initiate a research program and to demonstrate applied silviculture that would advance the scientific foundations of forest management in Canada and abroad.
The 10,000 ha research area encompasses the northern portion of the Petawawa Military Reserve through formal agreement with the Department of National Defence.
For more than 75 years the Station, later known as the Petawawa National Forestry Institute (PNFI), was at the forefront of forestry research in Canada. It pioneered systematic study in silviculture, forest ecology, fire research, and tree breeding and genetics. More than 2000 experimental plots and sites were established and the Station became internationally recognized as Canada’s pre-eminent research forest site. It is truly a national treasure.
Although in 1996 the research programs being undertaken at PNFI were shut down or moved to other centres across the country, the Petawawa Research Forest has been maintained. Its objective is to protect, preserve, and promote the forest’s historical and scientific legacy. It serves as facility for scientific research by the Canadian Forest Service, provinces and industry. The PRF also carries out a program to educate forestry personnel and the public through field demonstrations of forest management principles and methods.
More historical information is available in the publication, “75 Years of Research in the Woods – A History of Petawawa Forest Experimentation Station and Petawawa National Forestry Institute” by I. C. M. Place. ISBN 1-894263-54-5.