Forest management is the maintaining and management of not only thetrees in the forest, but the streams, habitat, watersheds, and even thedecaying trees or logs on the forest floor.
Managing our forests is not onlyimportant to the wildlife, but to our future economy and way of life. We needto continue to save the Oregon forests and help the ecosystems within thembecause human beings are also part of the ecosystem. By using forest management, it can help certain species of wildlife. Some species of birds, such as the pileated woodpecker, which need largesnags to build nest cavities(7). But the worst possible approach to maintaininga wide diversity of species would be to manage every acre of the forest thesame way. Any change in forest habitat creates ‘winners’; and ‘losers.Order now
‘; Asforests go through natural cycles of growth, death and regeneration, speciesmay inhabit or be absent from a given area partly in response to naturalchanges in the structure of trees and other forest vegetation(4). The sameoccurs when forest stands are managed by humans. Unless future credible research indicates otherwise, effort should bemade to manage a wide range of forest structures. Maintaining diversity wouldbe best served by using a broader range of management tools. Those wouldinclude harvesting on federal land – not simply thinning – and increasing thecommitment to old-growth attributes on private forest land throughtechniques such as retaining large trees and snags. As long as federal landsare substantially committed to providing late successional habitat, privateforest land can be substantially committed to younger, intensively managedstands, provided critical habitat characteristics are available.
The federal lands make up more than 50% to 60% of the forests inOregon(3). Because timber harvest in now dramatically reduced on federallands, those lands represent a sizable, well distributed pool of both old-growthforests and forests that could become old-growth, providing habitat to thosespecies associated with forests with old-growth characteristics. While a largeportion of federal land is committed to sustaining species that needold-growth, the difficult question remains, how much is enough? Leaving theseforests completely unharvested invites unacceptable, large-scale insectinfestations and catastrophic fires(6). Because federal lands comprise nearly 50 to 60 percent of Oregon’sforests, practices on these lands have a major impact on forest-dwellingvertebrates(2).
These lands are well distributed throughout the state. Private land ownership accounts for approximately 40 percent of the statesforests(5). Of this private ownership, over half is in industrial ownership andthe rest is held mostly by small woodland owners(7). Since 1992 harvesting on federal lands has dropped sharply. In contrast,many industrial private lands are intensively managed(6).
Oregon law requiresprompt replanting, and stands are often fertilized and thinned. This splitownership, in addition to diverse management practices on private lands,results in a wide range of habitat conditions. No species studied appears immediately threatened by forest practicesin Oregon(3). In fact, many species are abundant. While that finding appearshopeful, it does not ensure that these will not be future problems.
Currentpractices may not be adequate to keep the present range of species in thefuture. While some species thrive in the habitat provided by younger foreststands, a considerable number of species either requires, or reproducesbetter, where large live trees, large cavities, and large pieces of downed woodare present. The Oregon Forest Practice Act currently requires that some trees beretained after harvest. But the question is: how much is enough? Will treesbeing retained be sufficiently distributed to meet the future habitat needs ofall vulnerable species? For example more than 60 species are associated withdowned wood such as; fallen decaying trees or logs, 14 of them considered atrisk(8). One species would be the rough skinned newt which live in and arounddecaying wood. Few studies to date have focused specifically on intensivelymanaged stands where old-growth characteristics, such as large snags andlarge pieces of decaying wood, are most likely to be in short supply.
However,research is looking toward this need. Harvest levels in the future will likely be at least 40 percent below whatcould be cut on a sustainable level(1). That’s because of reduced exaggerationon timber production on federal lands. In the past, federal land provided halfthe states timber production, but in 1996 provided only 17 percent(2). That isthe lowest level since 1934, in the depths of the Great Depression.
Anunderstanding of Oregon’s timberland and its importance to the state’seconomic and social well being, particularly in rural areas. In Oregon, reforestation is mandatory and carefully spelled out in theOregon Forest Practice Act, which governs all management related activities inOregon’s privately owned forests. Private lands must be replanted within twoplanting seasons of harvest, and within six years of harvest, the site must becertified as free to grow, meaning the trees have topped the brush and cangrow successfully. If the replanting job fails, the state can compel compliancewith the act through civil penalties, including civil court action and fines of upto $5,000(3). More than 90 percent of harvested forested acres arereplanted to stocking levels that meet of exceed what is legally required. So in order to help our forests, we need to continue with what is beingdone today.
The hard work that is being put into saving the forests habitat,the streams, and the trees themselves may not show in the short-run but willhave dramatic effect in the long-run. Wood products remain an importantcomponent of Oregon’s robust economy and contribute to the long-awaiteddiversification of the state’s economy.