Travel makes you think

Two kinds of forests

My wife and I are leaving on vacation soon; we will be someplace warm where they don’t speak much English. We’re looking forward to the break!

Whenever we fly back to Oregon, I’m always impressed by our vast forests. If some private land has some clearings, I know those clearings are replanted after harvest, and that law protects fish and wildlife habitat and water resources.

That isn’t the case for some of the places we will visit. I am reminded that tropical forests are sometimes harvested using poor techniques, often illegally and with little regard for forest ecosystems, habitat or water quality.

As we prepare to leave, I’m working on one of OFRI’s publications called Oregon Forest Facts and Figures. We’re putting the final touches on the 2013 edition, and it will be available for order at early in February. One of the charts in it is called “Oregon forestland acreage.” It shows that our state’s total forest acreage is essentially unchanged since 1953. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is Oregon’s land-use law that protects farm and forestland. In addition, the volume of wood growing in Oregon’s forests is nearly the same as it was 60 years ago.

Another important chart in the new edition shows “Annual timber harvest and mortality.” Mortality comes from fire, insects and disease. On our private forestland, much of the annual growth is harvested, about 4 percent dies, and about 20 percent is left to increase standing timber volume. However, on our federal forestlands, it’s just the opposite. Little timber is harvested, a large amount dies, and most goes to increasing the standing timber volume.

Here in the U.S., we have the ability and responsibility to solve our own problems. In some of the countries I’ll visit, that isn’t the case, and that’s something to ponder while I’m away. My hope for 2013 is that we have multiple breakthroughs with the public collaborations now underway to treat our east-side forests for ecosystem health and fire resiliency. And even though Oregon will still be in winter’s icy grip, I promise to be thankful when I return home in a couple weeks.

Dave Kvamme
Director of Communications


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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