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Oregon Forest Facts & Figures | OFRI Forest Facts & Figures

Oregon
Forest Facts
2019-20 EDITION

EXPLORE THE STORY OF OREGON'S FORESTS

Oregon Forest Facts tells the story of Oregon’s forests through data, charts and graphs. It fills a need for accurate and current information about Oregon’s forests in an easy-to-access format

 

Forestland
Ownership >

Forestland Ownership >

Forestland Ownership

FORESTLAND AREA

Nearly half of Oregon is forestland. About 80 percent of this forestland is classified as “timberland.” Timberland is forestland that can productively grow commercial grade timber. It excludes forestland with low growth and reserve areas where logging is restricted, such as wilderness areas and national parks.

 

FORESTLAND CONVERSION

Oregon has done remarkably well in protecting forests, farms and rangeland from development. In fact, 97 percent of all non-federal land in Oregon that was in resource land uses in 1974 remained in those uses in 2014. When forestland is lost today, it tends to happen because of residential or commercial development. Between 1974 and 2014, about 247,000 acres of private Oregon forestland were converted to other uses, mostly to low-density housing. However, Oregon’s loss was less than half the loss seen in Washington state over the same period. That’s due largely to a difference in Oregon’s land-use and forest-practices laws, which work in tandem to keep forestland and farmland in forest and farm uses.

FORESTLAND OWNERSHIP

FORESTLAND OWNERSHIP AND TIMBER HARVEST

While the federal government manages most of the forestland in Oregon, only a small fraction of Oregon’s timber harvest happens on federal land, and most of that is from thinning. About 78 percent of the total state harvest comes from private timberlands.

 

Harvest
& Production >

Harvest & Production >

Harvest & Production

Oregon timber harvest levels

From the end of World War II until 1989, timber harvests in Oregon generally ranged from 7 to 9 billion board feet annually. Between 1989 and 1995, timber harvest on federal lands dropped about 90 percent, caused mainly by environmental litigation, the listing of the northern spotted owl and a number of fish as threatened species, and related changes in federal management emphasis.

Harvests from private lands 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 three most recent years where data is available (2015-2017), Oregon timber harvest remained steady at around 3.8 billion board feet.

 

Sustainability of Oregon’s timber harvest

On Oregon’s private forestland, where most timber harvest happens in the state, the amount of wood harvested each year is about 77 percent of the annual timber growth. About 11 percent of that growth is offset by trees that die from causes such as fire, insects and disease.

On federal lands, only about 8 percent of the annual timber growth is harvested each year. The amount of timber that dies offsets annual growth by 36 percent. The remainder of the growth, a net change of 56 percent, adds to the volume of standing timber in those forests.

High net change in growth isn’t always beneficial, however. For example, in federal ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests in eastern and south central Oregon, it has created unusually dense forests with stressed trees that are more prone to insect infestation, disease and uncharacteristically severe fire.

No. 1 in softwood lumber

Oregon has led the nation in the production of softwood lumber for many years.

Oregon’s lumber output of 5.5 billion board feet in 2017 accounted for about 16.2 percent of total U.S. production. That’s an increase of 43 percent from the recessionary low in 2009 of 3.8 billion board feet. However, Oregon sawmill output in 2017 is only about 73 percent of the pre- recessionary high in 2005.

No. 1 in plywood

Oregon dominates U.S. production of softwood construction plywood. In fact, Oregon accounted for about 28 percent of total U.S. plywood production in 2017, up from 22 percent in 2009.

In 2017, 15 plywood mills were operating in Oregon, of 50 total nationwide. Louisiana, the second-place state in production, had only five plywood mills, and no other state had more than three.

Overall, U.S. plywood production has been challenged by cheaper strand-board products that have taken market share in some uses. Oregon has no mills that make strand-board. Yet plywood is still a significant business that has rebounded from its recessionary low in 2009.

 

Watershed
Protection >

Watershed Protection >

Watershed Protection

OVER $1 BILLION INVESTED IN PROTECTING SALMON HABITAT AND WATERSHEDS

Streams originating on forestlands supply water for Oregonians to drink, use in their homes and businesses, irrigate their fields and run industrial processes. Forest soils provide natural filtration to keep streams clean and water quality high. Some 35 municipal water systems in Oregon source their drinking water supply from forested watersheds. More than 30 of those watersheds include actively managed lands that employ modern timber-harvest and resource-protection methods.

In response to listings of salmon species under the federal Endangered Species Act, Oregon lawmakers joined with landowners in 1997 to create the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. The Oregon Plan seeks to restore salmon runs, improve water quality and achieve healthy watersheds statewide, through the joint efforts of government, landowners and citizen volunteers.

The plan is unique among state protection plans for its emphasis on landowners voluntarily exceeding regulations, and for its engagement of communities to restore their watersheds. The combined efforts of government, landowners and community members have restored more than 7,500 miles of stream banks and opened an additional 5,400 miles.

The Oregon Plan is one part of a three-pronged effort to protect water and fish habitat, along with forest practice rules and land-use laws that work to keep forestland from being converted to other uses that are less compatible with quality fish habitat. Since 1997, more than $1.1 billion has been invested in watershed restoration projects in Oregon.

KEY ELEMENTS OF THE OREGON PLAN

  • Voluntary restoration activities by private landowners (especially forest landowners), supported by local citizens, students, businesses and government
  • Coordinated tribal, state and federal agency actions
  • Continued monitoring of watershed health, water quality and salmon recovery
  • Rigorous technical oversight by independent scientists and specialists
 

Sustainability >

Sustainability >

Sustainability

A BALANCED APPROACH:
THREE CLASSES OF FOREST MANAGEMENT

Oregon’s forests are managed to reflect the interests and practices of different owners. A study by the Oregon Department of Forestry showed that in general, the forestland base is managed for three primary purposes.

TIMBER PRODUCTION – 36%

Forests managed mostly for income or timber production by large and small private owners and tribes. Private forests, managed under the Oregon Forest Practices Act to protect non timber values, supply about three quarters of the annual statewide timber harvest.

MULTI-RESOURCE – 33%

Forests managed for multiple uses, including recreation, water, wildlife habitat and timber production. These forestlands are primarily in public, tribal and small private ownership. When harvest occurs on state and private land, it also is subject to the Oregon Forest Practices Act.

RESERVE – 31%

Forests managed and conserved mostly for environmental or cultural reasons, with limited timber harvest. These forests are largely owned by the federal government and may be set aside as parks or wilderness areas, or as riparian, old-growth or endangered species habitat.

CERTIFICATION

Oregon forest landowners meet some of the strictest environmental standards in the world through compliance with the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Yet they may choose to meet additional standards to gain recognition from independent, third-party forest sustainability certification systems.

America’s three largest certification systems are the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

Forest certification gives wood-product consumers, architects, engineers and builders an added level of assurance that the products were produced using responsible and sustainable forestry practices.

 

 

Employment >

Employment >

Employment

AN ARRAY OF JOBS

Oregon’s forest sector includes a wide variety of employment, from forestry, logging, millwork and cabinetmaking to engineering, hydrology, business management and academic research. Economists estimate that each million board feet of timber harvested creates or retains about 11 forest sector jobs.

Here’s a rundown of Oregon’s forest sector jobs by type of employment in 2017:

Timber harvest and forest sector jobs data is from 2017. Jobs data is from Oregon Employment Department. Ownership, harvest data and map provided by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Oregon Forest Facts 2019 cover

Oregon Forest Facts:
2019-20 Edition

This information is from a new report by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. We invite you to view the full report to learn even more about the environmental, social and economic values of Oregon’s forests.

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Oregon Forest Resources Institute is dedicated to advancing public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products and to encourage sound forestry through landowner education. Learn more: OregonForests.org