The two parcels of the Redfir Lake-Kapitagas Channel Ecological Reserve, located in southwestern Labrador, protect the only known natural stands of jack pine in the province, and the most easterly occurrence of this tree species in North America.
Jack pine grow in northern areas with dry, infertile soils that cannot support other tree species. The tree's range extends farther north (in western Canada) than any other North American pine tree.
This tree species is highly fire-dependent—its hard-surfaced cones, 4 to 5 cm long, are tightly sealed and bonded by resin and it takes the heat of a fire to open them and release their seeds. Jack pine also reproduce quickly, reaching reproductive maturity within 10 years.
The naturally occurring jack pine in the reserve's two parcels are in different stages of growth. In the smaller (3 km2) area near Redfir Lake, the trees are recolonizing following fire. In the larger (79 km2) Kapitagas Channel area to the north, jack pine grow in mature, almost pure stands. This variety of successional stages is an indicator of ecosystem health.
The separation of the reserve's two sites is important to the management of the species. In the unfortunate event that one site is devastated (by disease or infestation, for example), the other may remain healthy and serve as a seed source.
Both parts of Redfir Lake-Kapitagas Channel Ecological Reserve lie within Labrador's Mid Subarctic Forest ecoregion (730 KB), in which black spruce is the most common tree. Cladina and Cladonia lichens are also prominent in the forest's under-story.
There is no road access to either part of the Redfir Lake-Kapitagas Channel Ecological Reserve.
Redfir Lake-Kapitagas Channel Ecological Reserve was given provisional status in 1995, and was fully designated in 1999.
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