Facts about Oregon’s forests

Every two years, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute compiles the latest data on Oregon’s forests into a detailed reference guide called Oregon Forest Facts. It contains a series of charts, graphs and maps that tell the story of the state’s forests and forest-based economy.

Oregon Forest Facts includes information and statistics on forestland ownership, timber harvest, forest-based employment and wood products production. Other topics include water quality in Oregon’s forests, investments in protecting watershed and salmon habitat, and acres of Oregon forestland certified by third-party sustainability programs. 

The pocket-size booklet is available for digital download or to order online.

The latest data from Oregon Forest Facts can also be accessed at OregonForestFacts.org. The mobile-friendly website includes the option to easily share - via email or social media - charts and graphs with information about Oregon's forests.

Forestland Area

Nearly half of Oregon is forestland. Oregon forests vary by species composition and ownership. There are more than 30 distinct forest types, but Douglas-fir dominates in western Oregon, ponderosa pine in eastern Oregon, and mixed conifers in southwest Oregon. In terms of ownership, the federal government manages 61% of Oregon forests; private owners manage 34%; state and county governments manage 4%; and Native American tribes manage 2%.

Learn more at OregonForestFacts.org

Ownership table 2022

Timber harvest levels from public and private forestlands over the past 20 years have remained relatively stable, although the Great Recession (2007-09) and the collapse of the housing market brought a severe contraction in the U.S. demand for lumber. Consequently, Oregon’s timber harvest reached a modern-era low in 2009, the smallest harvest since the Great Depression in 1934. By 2013, the harvest had rebounded to roughly pre-recession levels.

In the five most recent years where data is available (2017-2021), Oregon timber harvest averaged around 3.8 billion board feet. The 2020 Labor Day fires led to a short-term increase in timber harvest due to post-fire salvage logging on private land. However, long-term annual timber harvest is expected to decrease between 100 and 250 million board feet per year from 2026 to 2065 due to loss of future growth on trees killed by wildfires in 2020.

Learn more at OregonForestFacts.org

Harvest Chart 2021

PROTECTIVE BUFFERS

Clean water is crucial to all Oregonians. Most of Oregon’s municipal water originates in forested watersheds, including those managed for wood production. The cleaner the source water stays, the less treatment and filtration it will need as it is prepared for human consumption, and the better fish and amphibian habitat it creates.

Loggers and forestland owners are required to leave areas of uncut trees and vegetation along the borders of streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands. This rule is most stringent for waterways where fish are present, and those that are sources of drinking water. These areas are called “riparian management areas,” “RMAs,” or simply “stream buffers.” Within these buffers, timber harvesting is either prohibited or severely restricted.

NEWLY EXPANDED HABITAT

The width of required stream buffers was expanded in 2022, the result of legislation following agreements reached during the Private Forest Accord negotiations between representatives from the timber industry and major conservation groups. Protective buffers along fish-bearing streams were increased overall, and range from 75 to 110 feet in width, depending on the size of the stream and whether it contains certain species of fish. The goal of the newly expanded stream buffers was to increase and improve habitat for native Oregon fish, as well as four species of amphibians and one frog.

The Oregon Legislature also passed a law in 2022 that requires stream buffers for some ephemeral headwater streams. These are streams that are seasonal, or sometimes present during significant rainfall, but are dry at other times of the year.

The width of the required no-cut buffers varies by stream size and location. 

Learn more at OregonForestLaws.org

FIRST IN THE NATION

In 1971, Oregon became the first state to pass a comprehensive law to regulate forest practices and safeguard water, fish and wildlife habitat, soil and air. The rules of the Oregon Forest Practices Act are continually reviewed and updated to keep pace with the most current scientific research.

The rules most recently changed in 2022, in response to the Private Forest Accord agreement between the timber industry and conservation groups. Some of those new rules are included below.

IMPORTANT RULES

  • Reforestation: Landowners must complete replanting within two years after a timber harvest, with at least 200 tree seedlings per acre. Within six years, the harvest area must contain healthy trees that can outgrow competing grass and brush on their own.
  • Water and stream protection: Timber harvesting, road building and the use of chemicals are restricted close to streams, to protect fish and safeguard the source of much of Oregon’s drinking water. In 2022, protective buffers along streams where logging is prohibited were expanded. New standards were added for fish-bearing-stream culvert sizes and culvert installation procedures, and some road building rules were modified to focus on minimizing sediment in streams.
  • Wildlife habitat protection: Live trees, standing dead trees (snags) and fallen logs must be left after a timber harvest, to provide wildlife habitat.
  • Limits on clearcutting: Clearcuts cannot exceed 120 acres within a single ownership, including the combined acreage of any clearcuts within 300 feet of each other.
  • Steep slopes: In 2022, the Oregon Legislature passed new rules related to logging on steep slopes, such as retaining trees in certain areas, with the intention to provide high-quality habitat to support long-term conservation of stream habitats.
  • Chemical application: Forest protection laws limit the use of chemicals. Foresters must follow a variety of state and federal regulations when using herbicides.

Learn more at OregonForestLaws.org

Oregon had two very different fire seasons in 2019 and 2020. The 2019 season was relatively quiet, while 2020 was one of the worst the state has ever experienced. The increasing number of catastrophic fire seasons such as Oregon experienced in 2020, 2018 and 2017 are due to a number of factors, including climate change. A warming climate has led to longer, hotter and drier fire seasons, and contributed to more drought and insect outbreaks that weaken or kill trees and make forests more susceptible to wildfire damage.

Learn more at OregonForestFacts.org

Fire-trends-2021

Oregon’s forest sector includes a wide variety of employment, from forestry, logging, millwork and cabinetmaking to engineering, hydrology, business management and academic research. Here’s a rundown of Oregon’s forest sector jobs by type of employment in 2021.

Learn more at OregonForestFacts.org

Oregon Forest Sector Jobs table 2021

 


 

logo

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

twitter youtube facebook linkedin

Contacts