What is forest literacy? By its nature, it’s a moving target.
If literacy is defined as competence or knowledge in a specified area – in this case, forests – then time changes what we know. That means it’s not enough to write a plan for forest literacy; it has to be updated regularly to be kept current and relevant.
More than 10 years ago, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) brought together a diverse group of teachers, nonformal educators and natural resource professionals to create the Oregon Forest Literacy Plan (OFLP). It identified what every Oregon student should know about the state’s forests by the end of high school. Six years ago, a similarly diverse statewide group updated the OFLP.
OFRI is in the process of updating the Oregon Forest Literacy Plan once again. In November we convened a group of educators and natural resource professionals to review and revise the concepts presented in the plan, so it can appropriately address current approaches, issues and challenges related to our forests.
We asked this group to identify and consider the most important changes of the past five years in the fields of forestry and education. They came up with a list that included the intensity and impact of wildfire, carbon and climate change, and increased awareness of the role of indigenous people and traditional ecological knowledge in forestry. We compiled their ideas and developed an updated version of the OFLP concepts. In January we distributed the draft concepts to a larger group of education and forestry experts, and then revised the draft concepts based on their review.
At this stage in the revision process, we invite public comments on the draft concepts. Public review such as this is an important component of OFRI’s commitment to transparency and accountability, and we hope you’ll participate.
To view the draft concepts, please go to OregonForests.org/public-review.
If you’d like to provide feedback on the draft concepts, please submit your comments via the online survey you’ll find at that same link. As an alternative to the online survey, you can also email comments to [email protected] or mail comments to:
c/o Oregon Forest Resources Institute
9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210
Portland, OR 97225
All comments must be received via the survey, email or mail by 5 p.m. on April 1. Note that all comments will be reviewed and considered, and a synopsis will be made publically available on OFRI’s website.
After finalizing the concepts based on the public feedback we receive, we’ll design and print the plan and distribute it with the help of our K-12 education and forestry partners. Print copies of the updated plan will also be available to order for free or download from our main website, OregonForests.org, or our K-12 forest education website, LearnForests.org.
Director of K-12 Education Programs
You may have seen the statistic in some of Oregon Forest Resources Institute’s educational media and other places, that roughly three trees are planted for every one harvested in Oregon. You may have wondered where this figure came from, and if the ratio is universal across all forests. The short answers are 1) it’s an educated estimate of the number of trees forest landowners in Oregon plant for each one they harvest; and 2) It does vary in different forests. Let’s go a little deeper into these questions.
The three-to-one ratio we use in our educational media is a conservative estimate that’s at the lower end of the tree-planting-to-harvesting-ratio spectrum in Oregon. That’s because the ratio depends on both how many trees are planted per acre and how many trees are harvested per acre. Both these numbers can vary based on a number of factors, such as how far apart the trees are planted and the age of the trees when they’re harvested.
First, it’s important to note that our tree-planting-to-harvesting-ratio estimate mostly only applies to western Oregon. The reason for that is western Oregon’s Douglas-fir dominant forests, where the most clearcutting takes place, followed by mass tree planting. Western Oregon forest landowners are also required under Oregon law to replant trees after timber harvest.
The number of trees planted per acre varies with different sites and landowners. Planting is commonly done using 10’ x 10’ spacing, which equals 436 trees per acre (tpa). Some landowners plant a bit tighter and some plant a bit wider, but 436 tpa is a solid average to use.
The number of trees harvested per acre depends on the age of the trees when they’re harvested, the site quality, and past management such as thinning. Some landowners choose to do a commercial thinning, a partial harvest where they cut down some of their trees and sell them to mills to be made into wood products; then they do a full timber harvest years later. The typical age of trees in a full timber harvest is between 50 and 70 years old.
Here are three scenarios that illustrate the spread of ratios:
• A 50-year-old patch (a “stand,” in forester terms) of Douglas-fir trees with no commercial thinning has about 150 tpa at harvest. So 436 divided by 150 equals 2.9, or nearly three trees planted for each one harvested.
• A stand of 70-year-old trees with no commercial thinning has about 110 tpa at harvest. If you divide 436 by 110 that equals 3.96, or nearly four trees planted for each one harvested.
• A stand that was previously commercially thinned and now has 70-year-old trees has about 75 tpa at harvest. In that case, if you divide 436 by 75 you get 5.8, or nearly six trees planted for each one harvested.
You might wonder: How does a newly planted stand go from 436 tpa to only 150 tpa when it’s mature? Is the loss from animals eating tree seedlings, other kinds of tree mortality, or thinning? In those 50 years, how did two-thirds of the original trees planted go M.I.A.?
Great question. The reduction in tree stock is due to self-thinning or competition-induced mortality. As trees get bigger in diameter, they need more room to grow. For trees to reach 16 inches in diameter at breast height (dbh), they need to be about 20 feet apart. The smaller trees die to make room for the bigger trees. A stand of trees 20 feet apart would have about 110 trees per acre.
So there you have it. In Oregon, we plant about three trees for each tree harvested, but in some cases it could be as many as six trees planted for each harvested tree. Aren’t you glad you asked?
For the forest,
Acting Executive Director
We are in a historic time of a paradigm shift in the collective approach to forest policy in Oregon. The forest products industry and the environmental community have often been seen as being at odds with one another. But they are invested in the same resource: Oregon forests.
In 2020, the two groups made a concerted effort to move past their differences and create a more collaborative path forward, which has come to be known as the Private Forest Accord. The Private Forest Accord is the result of a long-term process that brought together representatives from both sides through a mediated process. The purpose was to modify the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA) to identify key goals that should allow Oregon to receive federal approval of a Habitat Conservation Plan.
A Habitat Conservation Plan and accompanying incidental take permit on private forestlands would offer assurances of protected habitat for fish and other aquatic species, and provide future regulatory stability for Oregon’s forestry and forest products sector.
Over an 18-month period, representatives from the timber industry and environmental groups took time to meet, listen to scientific experts, and dive into research and data in an effort to find common ground. In October, 2021, with the leadership of Gov. Kate Brown, representatives of the Accord signed an agreement on proposed changes to state regulations governing logging and other forest practices on private forestland.
The group identified the goals pursued during the process as aiming to provide:
• greater business certainty
• greater environmental certainty
• greater regulatory certainty
• science-driven adaptive management processes
• alternatives for small woodland owners
The full Private Forest Accord report was released to the public in order to provide an in-depth look at proposed changes to Oregon’s forestry laws as agreed upon by the groups. Those agreements were put before the 2022 legislative process as Senate Bills 1501, 1502 and HB 4055.
The primary topics of those bills were identified as:
• Stream buffers. Updated stream buffers are 10% to 100% larger based on stream type and geography.
• Forest roads. New standards for road design, inventory, maintenance, management, and culvert design.
• Unstable slopes. Retaining trees in key areas as a means to reduce landslide risk, and develop new modeling.
• Protections of aquatic resource habitat. Expanded riparian buffers for a variety of riparian-dependent species, including salmon, steelhead, bull trout, and amphibians. (Includes additional reporting requirements for managing beaver activity.)
• Compliance monitoring. Expands monitoring programs to evaluate whether new rules are implemented as intended.
• Adaptive Management Program. Creates a new stakeholder committee, which will work with an Independent Research and Science Team to advise the Board of Forestry on recommendations for ongoing rule changes ensuring that the goals of the Habitat Conservation Plan are met.
• Mitigation and implementation costs.
• Tax credit to compensate small forestland owners.
There are also special accommodations for small woodland owners to address disproportional impacts they could face as a result of changes to Oregon’s forest practices regulations. Provisions for alternative practices and state funding are intended to help lessen the burden for small forest landowners, who make up about 12% of the state’s forestland and 36% of the private ownership.
There are still numerous steps to be taken, by the Private Forest Accord and the legislation associated with it, before the rules and habitat conservation plan are finalized. But the hope is that the long-term regulatory certainty and an HCP for private forestlands will better protect stream habitat for fish and other sensitive wildlife while keeping Oregon private forests forested, rather than converted for other uses. This is how we will ensure that Oregon’s forest sector can thrive into the future.
To learn more about the Private Forest Accord and upcoming changes to Oregon’s forest practices regulations, go to OregonForests.org/private-forest-accord.
Acting Director of Forestry
Hi, everyone! My name is Taylor Lowe and I’m the Oregon Forest Resources Institute’s new social media intern, responsible for creating content and helping manage the agency’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
I’m a senior at Oregon State University, majoring in marketing. I’m originally from Oregon City, which puts me in the perfect location to enjoy all that Oregon has to offer, being not far from beaches, forests, deserts and mountains.
My family lives on seven acres in Beavercreek that backs up to 150 acres of forest owned by a family friend, which includes ponds, trails for hiking, mountain biking, ATV riding and horseback riding, as well as camping spots. My dad, brothers and I love to take a short walk through our backyard and spend some time fishing, hiking with our chocolate labs – who love the water – and enjoying the scenery in all four of Oregon’s seasons.
My dad is an avid outdoorsman who instilled a love of nature in me at a young age as he took me fishing all over Oregon, as well as camping, hunting and hiking.
From the ages of 8 to 18, I rode horses competitively, which provided many opportunities for me to spend time outside with my horses, Doc and Charlie, travel across the Pacific Northwest for competitions, and trail ride all over Oregon. With my background in agriculture and outdoor hobbies, I could not be more excited about this opportunity with OFRI!
Last summer, before joining OFRI, I had an amazing opportunity to intern with the Portland Pickles collegiate baseball team. My main responsibilities included running their social media platforms, and fan engagement. My coworkers and I had a blast coming up with creative new ways to get fans engaged and involved at the games, and bringing all of our ideas to life. Fan engagement also tied into social media by showing our fans what was happening at the stadium if they weren’t able to make it out to the game, as well as featuring fans in attendance on our social media. While spending my summer with the Pickles I learned so much about event coordinating and production, and how to maximize the online presence of a brand.
As graduation is quickly approaching this year, my goal is to continue to work in marketing, specifically social media marketing. I love being able to get creative and strategize new ways to engage with a variety of target audiences through rather new and dominant platforms in the marketing world such as Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Facebook.
I am so excited to be working with an organization that ties in so well with some of my favorite hobbies and the state that I love the most!
Feel free to reach out to me with content ideas for OFRI’s social media accounts or our blog at [email protected]
Social Media Intern