Stories about old growth preservation and battles over forestry on public lands often make the news. However, the really big news in Oregon forestry is the wood-production yields private landowners are achieving on their lands. Just as significant are the efficient methods Oregon mill owners are using to manufacture the building materials we all need as the country emerges from recession.
In a recent article in Oregon Humanities, Green Revolution historian and agriculture expert Robert Paarlberg writes that we can't feed the world by just using organic farming; we also need to use high-yield practices such as nitrogen fertilization, genetic improvement and irrigation. Similarly, Paarlberg says this about forestry: "If you don't invest in developing improved trees, managing forests, even fertilizing forests the way some companies do, and replanting those forests in a sustainable way, our need for timber and for pulp is going to lead to the destruction of natural forests."
Forestry’s Green Revolution is taking place on Oregon’s large private timberlands, or those consisting of more than 5,000 acres. Companies owning these lands use the latest high-yield forestry techniques – including tree improvement, improved nursery and reforestation practices, weed control, and fertilization – to produce the lion's share of our forest products. According to OFRI’s freshly released Oregon Forest Facts and Figures 2013, large private landowners have about 19 percent of Oregon's forestland, but produce about two-thirds of our annual timber harvest.
In addition to managing some of the world's most highly productive forestland with an emphasis on wood production, these private foresters rely on the latest research from Oregon State University's College of Forestry, one of the world's premier forestry research colleges. Most Oregon timber companies are members of OSU Forestry Research Cooperatives, which include the Center for Intensive Planted-Forest Silviculture, the Northwest Tree Improvement Co-op, the Hardwood Silviculture Co-op, the Vegetation Management Research Co-op, the Swiss Needle Cast Co-op and the Watersheds Research Co-op.
These member-funded and member-directed research cooperatives play an important role in forestry’s Green Revolution in Oregon. More information is available at the OSU College of Forestry website.
In Oregon, we should be proud of our private forest landowners and the way they manage our forests to produce the wood products we need as a society and the jobs we need as a state. We should also be proud of the research that is making this possible.
May the forest be with you.
Director of Forestry