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Chairholder Profile

Christian Messier

Department of Biological Sciences
Université du Québec à Montréal

Chair title

NSERC-Hydro-Québec Industrial Research Chair on Control of Tree Growth

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Senior Chairholder since 2009


Trees are present in Quebec and the rest of Canada, both in the natural environment and in the cities and countryside. Trees brighten our lives, filter the air, reduce temperature variations, produce wood, trap carbon and provide habitat for many living organisms. These various environmental and economic services provided by trees are very important for municipalities (such as Montreal and Quebec City) and for public and private organizations that promote the use of trees (such as ZEROCO2, the Quebec Intensive Silviculture Network, and the Quebec chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture). But trees often come into conflict with human-made structures, and especially electrical distribution infrastructure. Trees, particularly those with expansive crowns, present a significant risk both for breakage of such infrastructure and for the safety of the contractors who maintain it, as well as that of the general public. For this Chair's main partner, Hydro Québec, the monetary losses thus incurred amount to several hundred million dollars every year.

To optimize methods of controlling tree growth, and to enable trees and Hydro-Québec's infrastructure to co-exist more harmoniously, the Chair is conducting research projects organized around three complementary themes:

  • Theme 1: Understanding the dynamics of tree and tree-crown growth in relation to tree physiology, morphology, architecture and environment;
  • Theme 2: Studying the dynamics of the biomechanical stability of trees on the basis of structural and biophysical conditions;
  • Theme 3: Developing models and algorithms for monitoring and predicting tree growth on the basis of the biophysical conditions found in Quebec.

Together, these studies will enable us to combine our knowledge of the ecophysiology of tree growth, the biomechanics of tree stability, 3D modelling of individual tree growth, and dynamic and spatial modelling of communities and groups of trees in eastern Canada to achieve the following goals: (i) to test a set of theoretical and applied scientific hypotheses about the growth and development of trees, and the factors contributing to their coexistence in complex stands; (ii) to optimize the methods used to control tree growth along Hydro-Québec's electrical distribution corridors; and (iii) to better plan tree-crown development in inhabited areas. This project will develop strategies for tree-crown development and tree-growth control, both in urban and in rural areas, that will be better adapted, less intrusive, less costly and more efficient and, hence, more socially acceptable. Chairholder Christian Messier has over 20 years of experience in studying the growth of trees in a wide variety of forest ecosystems all around the world.


  • Hydro-Québec Distribution – Expertise
  • Hydro-Québec Distribution – Gestion des actifs
  • City of Montréal
  • City of Québec
  • Réseau Ligniculture Québec
  • ZéroCO2
  • Société Internationale d'Arboriculture – Québec

Contact information

Department of Biological Sciences
Université du Québec à Montréal
141 President Kennedy
Box 8888, Centre-ville Station
Montréal, Québec
H3C 3P8

Tel.: 514-987-3000, ext. 5048
Fax: 514-987-4647

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