Of Oregon’s 30 million acres of forests, nearly 60 percent is federal. Private landowners own 34 percent; with about 6 percent in city, county, state or tribal ownership. Wood production comes primarily from private forests, supporting more than ¾’s of Oregon’s annual timber harvest. Oregon is home to some of the most productive forestland in the world. Its forests are diverse and provide important habitat for fish and wildlife. Oregon’s Statewide Forest Assessment maps three types of high priority forests: those facing landscape wildfire risk, those vulnerable to conversion out of forest use, and those with important fish and wildlife habitats.
Maintaining the Forestland Base: Converting forests to non-forest uses results in a loss of forest resources and benefits such as timber, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, aesthetics and recreation. Further, development within the forest increases wildfire risk in terms of human caused ignitions, increased hazardous fuels, and placing more residences and structures at risk – which greatly increases fire suppression costs. As such, it is essential to keep forestland in forest use.
Diversity of Upland and Aquatic Habitats: Oregon is rich in its fish and wildlife resources. However, some fish and wildlife habitats are threatened by human population growth and development, transportation and energy, intensive land management and a lack of education and awareness. When threats materialize, the results are habitat fragmentation, degradation and loss, connectivity reduction, and loss of diversity in native flora and fauna. Oregon forestlands provide little exception to these challenges despite a solid foundation in planning, and regulatory and voluntary approaches to habitat conservation.
Communities at Risk of Wildfire: Fire suppression efforts over the last 100 years have altered the natural role wildfire plays in the forests of southwestern and eastern Oregon. As a result, these forests have experienced an increase in woody fuels, tree stocking and tree mortality; creating conditions for large, uncharacteristically severe, wildfire events that threaten Oregon communities and the environmental, social and economic resource benefits from Oregon’s forests.