That’s the number of individuals who own between 10 and 5,000 acres of forestland. Classified as Family Forestlands, these acres have often been handed down through generations.
The amount of timber coming from family forestlands varies greatly depending on demand in the market. Family forestlands accounted for about 11 percent of Oregon’s annual timber harvest in 2007 but only about 3 percent in 2009. Yet not all family forestlands are managed for timber production. Family forestland owners also manage forests for recreational use, fish and wildlife habitats or just pure aesthetics.
Most of these landowners are not professional foresters; they are doctors, teachers, accountants and clergymen. They’re also quite possibly your neighbors. That’s because a lot of family forestland is located close to residential areas in the foothills just outside of Oregon’s primary metropolitan areas.
Family forests at risk
A recent survey of family forestland owners indicated that they, like most Oregonians, desire to keep their property as forestland. But caring for the forest costs money. In many cases, family forest landowners use their land to earn a living. If the cost of regulation and management gets too expensive, they will turn to alternatives and, unfortunately, consider selling off the family forest for subdivisions, strip malls, vineyards or other development.
How you can help
We don’t all own the forests — not unless we are willing to shoulder the costs and responsibility of caring for them. Keeping family-owned forests economically viable is critical to forest sustainability. You can help by increasing awareness of the important role that private land plays in the forest ecosystem and encouraging public policy that helps keep family forestlands forests.
It's a new website dedicated to educating forest landowners in Oregon