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Background on Strategy B
Ensure that Oregon's forests provide diverse social and economic outputs and benefits valued by the public in a fair, balanced, and efficient manner

Why is providing recreation, commercial forest products, environmental benefits, and social and cultural uses important?
Forests are important to people because they offer a range of social, cultural, and economic values. Some of the values that come from forests are obvious-forests provide direct social and economic benefits that include wood products, recreation, jobs, incomes, and timber sale and tax revenues to governments and school districts. Other values are less tangible, such as solitude, scenic beauty, habitat for plants and animals, and spiritual renewal. Oregon's forests also provide environmental benefits such as purifying the state's air and water resources. These values may not be measurable in dollars and cents, but they have an economic impact-they contribute to Oregon's high quality of life and help the state attract desirable industries and skilled workers. This contribution in turn generates additional jobs, incomes, and tax revenues.
If forests continue to provide the social and economic values and environmental services that people want and need, it is likely they will be sustained. If forests cease to provide these benefits, they will be perceived as increasingly unimportant and risk being converted to other uses.
Rural and urban well-being
The economic and social well-being of many of Oregon's rural communities is directly linked to the health of forests and the forest economy. These rural economies depend on the availability of timber and non-wood products, recreational opportunities, and other resources from the forest. They are also affected by national and global markets and broader economic conditions.
Economic conditions are always changing, and some communities are better able to adapt to change than others. It is especially difficult for remote rural communities to adjust to economic change. These communities are more likely to suffer from poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, and other social problems. A diverse Oregon economy that includes a healthy forest products industry enables rural communities to be more adaptable and flexible, and enhances their economic and social well-being.
Not only rural communities benefit from a healthy forest products industry. There is much interdependence between Oregon's metropolitan areas and its smaller communities. Goods and services produced in the metropolitan areas flow to small towns and rural communities; these communities in turn provide workers and goods such as lumber and wood products to the cities. There are other interdependencies: revenues from Oregon's public forests go to schools across the state; and, because much urban income and employment depends on regional trade, Oregon's cities depend on natural resources for their livelihood just as rural communities do, although less directly. For example, one-third of Eugene's jobs and incomes are derived from the city's role as a regional trading center.
A disconnect of perception
Negative attitudes toward active forest management seem inconsistent with Oregonians' desire to have healthy and productive forests and also to consume large quantities of wood products. During the past decade, timber harvests in Oregon have declined, owing in large part to organized public opposition to active management of Oregon's public forests. At the same time, Oregon's consumption of wood products has increased. Active forest management is viewed by many as inconsistent with forest sustainability, but recent research suggests that human intervention is needed to bring some of our forests back to a more natural and sustainable condition.
What do we know about Oregon's forest economy and its ability to produce expected social and economic benefits?
We know a great deal about the lumber and wood products industry, less about forest-related recreation and tourism industries, and very little about mushrooms, floral greens, and other non-wood forest products. We also know that forest-based industries contribute relatively more to rural economies than to urban economies, and that local communities vary greatly in their dependence on forest-based industries.
Since 1990, timber harvest levels have dropped in Oregon, primarily because of reductions in harvests from federal lands. Employment in Oregon's wood-processing industries also has fallen, but not as much as harvest levels have. A number of factors have partially offset harvest declines; namely, growth in the manufacturing of secondary wood products (e.g., furniture and window frames, etc., made from primary products like lumber and plywood), declines in log exports, imports of logs from other states and Canada, harvesting and processing of more labor-intensive smaller timber, more efficient wood utilization, and increased use of recycled fiber (Figure 5).
Oregon's primary and secondary wood processing industries generate approximately $10 billion in annual sales, nearly 75,000 direct jobs, about $2.8 billion in worker income, and about $1.1 billion to landowners from timber sales. Additional employment and income is generated by businesses supplying products and services to forest products companies and by businesses catering to wood products workers and their families. Future employment in the industry is projected to be stable under current policies, but the potential exists to increase timber harvest levels and, in turn, wood processing employment.
We have less information about other forest-related economic trends. We lack, for example, complete and consistent data about recreation visits to national and Oregon parks and other public lands. We also have very little information about the economic contributions of non-wood forest products such as wild edible mushrooms, floral greens, Christmas greens, ornamentals, and medicinal plants. We need more information about the non-wood components of Oregon's forest industry in order to evaluate their contributions to Oregon's economy.
How can Oregon's forests better contribute to the supply of timber, other forest products, environmental benefits, recreation, and tourism?
Several current federal and state actions are aimed at enhancing the economic and social contributions of forests to local and state economies. These actions, however, lack a consistent policy basis. There is no coordinated state and federal policy regarding community stability and the contributions of lumber and wood products industries to the economy. These efforts do not fulfill their potential to contribute to increased supplies of forest products, greater environmental benefits, and greater economic benefits to state and local economies. We have every reason to expect that better-coordinated, well-funded approaches based on clearer policy would help Oregon generate additional environmental, economic, and social benefits from its forests.
With better-coordinated policies on economic development, community stability, and forest health, landowners could employ different approaches to produce different economic benefits-air and water purification, timber supply, non-wood forest products, recreation, and tourism. These approaches would vary depending on who owns the forest and where it is located within the state, and on the supply of and demand for the multitude of forest values produced by Oregon's forests.
Much new information useful for implementing effective economic and social forest policies has been jointly developed by the Department of Forestry, Oregon State University College of Forestry, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, and others. However, more information is needed about conditions and trends of Oregon's forests to better craft coordinated approaches and to understand the implications of changes in forest policy and management at the landscape level and across ownerships. Once we have this information, we will be better able to implement a more coordinated management approach that is needed to promote the desired balance of forest value production.
How can needed investment in the forest sector be maintained or enhanced?
Oregon's forest landowners invest large sums in reforestation and other management practices. Owners of processing plants have made similar investments, retooling their operations in response to changing raw materials and market realities. These investments have made Oregon's forest products industry extremely efficient. There may be more opportunities for investment, but additional research is needed to discover, evaluate, and implement them. If further opportunities are to be uncovered and used, we need comprehensive assessments of Oregon's forest-related industries, a better understanding of Oregon's rural communities and their relationship to urban areas, and an understanding of how such investments could strengthen the abilities of rural communities to provide the benefits expected by the urban population.
We also need more information about how non-wood forest products and recreation contribute to state and local economies, how the various elements of the forest products industry interact with one another, and how economic benefits could be increased by removing barriers to competitiveness and investment.
We need to maintain investment in both industrial forestlands and family forestlands (defined as ownerships of less than 5,000 acres) for both the public values and the private values these lands provide. Being closer to urban and rural residential areas, family forestlands face unique challenges. They are generally more visible to the public than forest industry lands or public lands, and they are expected to provide many of the forest benefits enjoyed by urban and suburban residents. In short, public expectations for private forests can discourage landowners from investing in forest management.
In addition, small woodland owners do not have the economies of scale or marketing expertise of industrial owners. This makes managing their forests more expensive and getting the best prices for their products more difficult. Forest regulations can proportionally affect smaller ownerships more severely than larger owners, causing financial hardships.
As management operations become more expensive, smaller forestlands are more likely to be removed from active management, and alternative investments are more likely to become more attractive. This could encourage conversion of forestland to other uses, resulting in the loss of the environmental, economic, and social benefits these forestlands provide (Figure 6). For these reasons, incentives that provide financial, educational, and technical assistance to enhance public values on private family forestlands are preferred over increased regulation.
How will rapidly changing national and global economies and environmental programs affect the future management of Oregon's forests?
Oregon influences forest economies and environments well beyond its borders. Changes in forest management in Oregon cause changes in national and international forest products markets and may affect social, economic and environmental conditions in other states and nations. In the same manner, changes at the national and international levels affect markets and environmental conditions in Oregon. The type and magnitude of these interactions are currently unclear. We need additional research to determine how the flow of wood among Oregon, the United States, and other countries affects changes in timber supply, and how it affects the substitution of other products for wood products in different regions. We also need research to find links between environmental changes and changes in wood flow, specifically examining changes in land use, management practices, product substitution, energy use, and carbon flows.
What mechanisms exist to address the unique social and cultural interactions between Native Americans and Oregon's forests?
Nine federally recognized Indian tribal governments are located in Oregon. These tribes have a unique legal status and play a unique role in Oregon's society and culture. The tribes and the State of Oregon work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect for the sovereign interests of both parties. The government-to-government relationship that exists between Oregon's Indian tribes and the State of Oregon has been formalized in state law, providing a process that can help resolve conflicts, maximize intergovernmental relations, and enhance an exchange of ideas and resources. This respectful relationship between Oregon and Indian tribes works toward the greater good of all of Oregon's citizens, whether tribal members or not.
One issue of strong interest to Indian tribes and to many other Oregonians is the protection of cultural and archeological resources on forestlands. Such sites are finite and irreplaceable, and they are an intrinsic part of the cultural heritage of the people of Oregon. All Oregon landowners have an obligation to be aware of state and federal statutes and rules regarding the protection of culturally or archeologically significant sites. Public land stewards are held to a higher standard and have a direct responsibility to protect these sites.
What is the status of Oregon's urban and community forests?
Oregon's urban and community forests are major contributors to the health and well-being of its citizens. They contribute strongly to one of Oregon's major economic advantages, the perception of unsurpassed livability. This quality-of-life advantage helps attract desirable businesses and highly qualified workers. Urban and community forests also provide numerous health and environmental benefits: they help purify our air and water, control stormwater runoff, provide shade, reduce soil erosion, create wildlife habitat, and enhance the health of riparian areas.
In recent decades, as Oregon has become more populated and more urban, resources to manage the urban forests have lagged. Only a few million dollars are spent each year on planting and managing urban and community forests. This is likely well below the level needed to maximize these forests' contribution to the social and economic well-being of Oregonians.
What are the key interactions of this strategy with other strategies?
Balancing the use of forests for recreation, timber and other forest products, and cultural uses affects, and is affected by, other strategies and policies for managing Oregon's forests. Here are some examples of these interactions:
  • Abundant fish and wildlife populations and biologically rich native forests can provide significant market and non-market economic benefits.
  • Maintaining the size and productivity of the forestland base is essential to providing the long-term social and economic benefits Oregonians expect from their forests.
  • Keeping timber harvest and growth in balance and ensuring that forests are being restocked with site-appropriate species is important to assure a continuous supply of timber and other forest outputs, which are necessary to provide local communities with family-wage jobs and a high quality of life.
  • Forest practices affecting long-term soil productivity (i.e., soil compaction, mass movement, erosion, nutrient availability, and water-holding capacity) help determine future availability of timber and forest resource outputs.
  • Altering management practices on Oregon's forests to maintain and enhance their storage of carbon could affect the availability of timber and other forest resource outputs.
What are potential indicators to measure progress toward accomplishing this strategy?
1. Value of investment in forest health and management, reforestation, wood processing, recreation, and tourism
2. Value and volume of wood and wood products production, including value added
3. Degree of recycling of forest products
4. Area of forestland managed for general recreation and tourism in relation to the total area of forestland
5. Visitor-days attributed to recreation and tourism
6. Direct and indirect employment in the forest sector
7. Viability and adaptability of forest-dependent communities to changing economic conditions.