Direct tree seeding is potentially an economical technique for restoring forests on abandoned fields. However, the success of tree establishment depends on many factors related to species and seed characteristics, environmental conditions, competition and predation. We compared seedling emergence, survival and growth of six tree species of different seed sizes in a forest restoration project of abandoned fields. Species were seeded in plots with and without herbaceous vegetation and with and without protection from bird and mammal predation. Yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis
) did not emerge in all treatments, paper birch (Betula papyrifera
) and tamarack (Larix laricina
) had a seedling emergence rate lower than 1%, and sugar maple (Acer saccharum
) had a low overall emergence rate of 6%. Seedling emergence reached 57% for northern red oak (Quercus rubra
) and 34% for red pine (Pinus resinosa
), but survival of oak after one year was much higher (92%) than pine seedlings (16%). Overall, protection from birds and mammals and elimination of the herbaceous vegetation cover had no detectable effects on seedling emergence, survival and height. Nonetheless, red oak seedlings growing in the presence of vegetation had a smaller diameter and shoot biomass and a larger specific leaf area. We conclude that only large seeded species, such as oak, should be used for forest restoration of abandoned fields by direct seeding in our region.