Skip to main content
Powered by Drupal

Oregon Forest Facts & Figures | OFRI Forest Facts & Figures

Oregon
Forest Facts
2021-22 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. This forestland has a wide variety of timber productivity levels: high productivity sites in the Coast Range, which account for 12% of Oregon’s forestland; medium-productivity sites in the western Cascades (35% of Oregon forestland); low-productivity sites in eastern Oregon (41% of forestland); and non-productive sites located at high elevations (12% of forestland).

FOREST MANAGEMENT STYLES VARY BY OWNER

Oregon’s forests are managed to reflect the varied objectives and practices of a diverse array of landowners. These include the federal government, which owns the largest portion of Oregon’s forestland, as well as state, county and municipal governments, private timber companies, tribes and small woodland owners, each with a range of goals for their land. Some forests are managed primarily for timber production, while others are set aside as parks, wilderness areas or reserves to protect old-growth, riparian or endangered species habitat. Many Oregon forest landowners try to find a balance between environmental and economic values, managing their forests for multiple uses, including recreation, water, wildlife habitat and timber.

FORESTLAND OWNERSHIP

FORESTLAND OWNERSHIP AND TIMBER HARVEST

While the federal government manages most of the forestland in Oregon, only a fraction of Oregon’s timber harvest happens on federal land, and most of that is from thinning. About 76 percent of the total state harvest comes from private timberlands.

FOREST PRACTICES ACT AND SUSTAINABILITY

Sustainable forestry requires following best management practices to protect water and other resources. In Oregon, the Oregon Forest Practices Act mandates the use of best management practices. An independent third-party audit commissioned by the Oregon Department of Forestry found that Oregon-grown wood meets the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credit for wood used in a project if it comes from forestland that is subject to the Oregon Forest Practices Act.

LATEST CHANGES TO FOREST PRACTICES ACT

Recent updates include increasing the size of no-spray buffers for herbicide use around homes, schools and water intakes, and requiring wider shade buffers of trees along streams inhabited by salmon, steelhead and bull trout. A state law passed in 2020 mandated the development of an electronic notification system for helicopter herbicide application to improve communication among landowners, helicopter operators, neighbors and water users.

CERTIFICATION

Oregon forest landowners must meet certain environmental standards through compliance with the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Many also 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 TreeFarm 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.

 

Harvest
& Production >

Harvest & Production >

Harvest & Production

Oregon timber harvest levels

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 related 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 (2015-2019), Oregon timber harvest averaged around 3.8 billion board feet. But the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic slump in 2020, as well as the heavy impact the year's Labor Day fires had on Oregon forests, are likely to affect the state's future timber harvest, especially with an uptick in post-fire salvage logging on private land.

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.

Oregon is number one

Oregon has led the nation in the production of softwood lumber and plywood for many years. Oregon is also a leader in producing value-added engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), glue-laminated timber (glulam) and mass plywood panels (MPP).

 

Drinking Water >

Drinking Water >

Drinking Water

TREES TO TAP

In Oregon, more than 300 public water providers rely on surface water from rivers, lakes or reservoirs as their main source, to supply about 75 percent of Oregonians with safe drinking water. Since nearly half of Oregon is forested, much of this surface water comes from forested watersheds. Some are publicly owned and managed as a water resource. Others are privately owned and managed primarily for timber production.

The Oregon State University Institute for Natural Resources, with the support of funding from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, published a report in 2020 called Trees to Tap that examines the effects of forest management on drinking water in Oregon. Written by faculty from the OSU College of Forestry, the report found that forested watersheds, whether managed or unmanaged, produce higher-quality source water than any other type of surface water source. Although forest operations can impact drinking water sources, the report found that best management practices, laws, regulations, monitoring and scientific research are all means to protect against these risks and safeguard the quality of source water.

KEY SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS

Here are some of the key findings and recommendations in Trees to Tap:

  • Sediment from forestry operations: The Trees to Tap authors reviewed scientific studies and found little direct quantitative evidence that forestry activities and forest roads impact community drinking water in Oregon. However, forest operations can affect drinking water quality or quantity in areas with steep, landslide-prone terrain, more erodible soil or rock types, or where past operations have left significant amounts of sediment in streams.
  • Forest chemicals: According to the studies reviewed for Trees to Tap, traces of herbicides can reach streams during strong storms. Ten-foot vegetated buffers are required on headwater streams that still contain water in mid-July, but these buffers do not always contain large trees. Studies show that including larger trees in buffers can slow or stop the drift of herbicides into protected stream reaches during application, especially during and immediately following post application storm events.
  • Water quantity: Water quantity, or “water yield,” following timber harvest is a concern for water system managers who need a reliable source of raw water. According to Trees to Tap, study results on this topic vary widely, with some watersheds showing large increases in water yield after logging occurred there and others showing little to none. More research is needed to better determine the relationship between timber harvest and water quantity.

Learn more at OregonForests.org/TreestoTap

 

Carbon >

Carbon >

Carbon

FOREST CARBON AND CLIMATE CHANGE

By absorbing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that’s a major contributor to global warming, forests are a key ally in the fight against climate change. Through photosynthesis, trees turn carbon dioxide into solid carbon that’s stored in the wood, and they release oxygen as a byproduct. As a result, Oregon’s forests store significant amounts of carbon, sequestering it from the atmosphere. Some of that carbon remains sequestered even after trees are harvested and made into wood products.

In fact, the total carbon sequestered in Oregon by the state’s forests and wood products made here is estimated to be 49.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, according to the Oregon Forest Resources Institute report Carbon in Oregon’s Managed Forests. Oregon’s forests also annually sequester about 30.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This forest carbon sequestration rate is the highest of the western states, and one of the highest in the country.

Learn more at OregonForests.org/Carbon

 

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. Here’s a rundown of Oregon’s forest sector jobs by type of employment in 2019.

CAREERS IN FORESTRY

Having a “forest job” doesn’t just mean working as a logger or a park ranger. Tens of thousands of Oregonians are employed in a variety of forest related jobs, from forestry, logging, millwork and cabinetmaking to engineering, hydrology, business management and academic research. These forest professionals help care for our forests, conserve fish and wildlife habitat, protect water, sustain forests for future generations and make innovative forest products.

The forest sector encompasses a diverse array of career paths that includes firefighters, ecologists, foresters, wildlife and fish biologists, and more. Forest sector jobs are present in each of Oregon’s 36 counties. In some rural counties, the sector is responsible for nearly a third of the economic base.

Although there are many well-paying career opportunities in the sector that can be pursued straight out of high school, technology advances in wood products manufacturing, forest management and digital forest mapping often require specialized training and education that typically earns workers higher wages.

FOREST SECTOR WAGES

Forest-related employment in Oregon totaled 61,556 jobs in Oregon in 2019, according to the Oregon Employment Department. This is about 3% of the total jobs in Oregon. However, in four rural Oregon counties, Grant, Douglas, Crook and Lake, forest sector jobs account for more than 10% of total jobs.

The average annual wage of those jobs was $56,500, roughly 3 percent more than the average wage of $55,000 for all Oregon employment. In some Oregon counties, especially rural ones, forest sector jobs have significantly higher than average wages. Forest sector wages in Clatsop County, for instance, are 85 percent higher than the county average.

Cover of Oregon Forest Facts 2021-22 Edition

Oregon Forest Facts:
2021-22 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.

ABOUT OFRI

The Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) was created by the Oregon Legislature in 1991 to advance public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products, and to encourage sustainable forestry through landowner education. A 13-member board of directors governs OFRI. It is funded by a portion of the forest products harvest tax.

Learn more: OregonForests.org