The French/Severn Forest is a gently sloping plain, rising in elevation from west to east. Tree species distribution and growth are related to stand history, climate and soils. In general, most hardwood stands are located in the east, while conifer stands are located in the west.
Tolerant hardwoods require deep to moderately deep, rich, well-drained soils to develop quality growth. They achieve their best growth on fresh alkaline loams. These site conditions occur in much of Ryerson, McMurrich, McConkey, Wilson and McKenzie Townships; and, to a degree, south of Highway 124 in Chapman and Croft Townships. The majority of the land in the townships listed above is private. Although farming was still marginal at best, these townships attracted permanent settlement and were not as severely exploited for quality material, as was the case on Crown land. In these areas, sugar maple is of much greater quality than those produced in the shallow, dry to fresh, sandy soils of the remainder of the management unit. These areas were associated with glacial lakes and consequent water-laid material. Quite often, yellow birch, poplar, American beech, hemlock and white pine are a component of tolerant hardwood stands.
White and red pine stands achieve excellent growth on shallow to moderately deep, dry-to-fresh, acidic sandy soils of low fertility. These conditions are common in the western townships; particularly Shawanaga, Harrison, Wallbridge, East Burpee, Blair, Brown, Mowat and Freeman. Poor quality poplar, white birch and red maple, are normally found in all white pine dominated stands. These species may create dense competition on sites characterized by moist, fertile soils. Therefore, tending can be necessary for the successful re-establishment of pine on all but the driest sites.