The life of a working forest

Forest landowners and managers are hard at work every day in forests throughout the state. They ensure that trees are thinned, spaced and growing properly, and that excessive dry brush is cleared and other fire hazards minimized. All this is done while maintaining wildlife habitat, biodiversity and water quality.

Forests where the sustainable production of timber is carefully balanced with protecting other important resources such as water quality and wildlife habitat are known as "working forests." After timber is harvested from these forests, they are replanted and harvested again in a sustainable process that may span decades – and even lifetimes.

Forest Fact Break: Forest Management

This two-minute animated video answers the question, "What the heck is forest management?" Oregon forests are managed for a wide range of values, including wood products, wildlife habitat, recreation and more. Oregon laws and sustainable forest practices allow us to balance the environmental, social and economic needs of our state. This video is part of OFRI’s Forest Fact Breaks series, which uses bold animated graphics, sound effects and narration to teach about natural resource topics in a fun, easy-to-understand way.

62,000 Oregonians

That’s the number of individuals who own between 10 and 5,000 acres of forestland in our state. Their holdings are often referred to as "family forestlands," because many of these properties have been handed down through generations.

The amount of timber coming from family forestlands varies greatly depending on market demand for wood products. Family forestlands accounted for about 12 percent of Oregon’s annual timber harvest in 2015, but only about three percent in 2009.

Not all family forestlands are managed for timber production. Family forest landowners also manage forests for recreational use, fish and wildlife habitats or pure aesthetics.

Most of these landowners are not professional foresters. They are retirees, doctors, teachers, accountants and clergy. 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 Oregon’s primary metropolitan areas.

Family forests at risk

Most family forest landowners want to keep their property as forestland, but caring for forests 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 the family forest for subdivisions, strip malls, vineyards or other development.

How you can help

Keeping family-owned forests economically viable is critical to forest sustainability. Even if you don’t own forestland, you can help by increasing awareness of the important role private land plays in the forest ecosystem, and encouraging public policy that helps keep family forests as forests.

Forest landowner education

For more information about educational programs and resources for forest landowners offered through OFRI and other organizations, visit KnowYourForest.org.