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Criterion 2 Indicator 13
Annual Removal of Wood Products, Compared to the Volume Determined to be Sustainable
  One important indicator of sustainable forestry is the level of actual timber harvest compared to the sustainable harvest level. This information is an important measure of whether or not current timber cutting levels can be sustained.

Can This Indicator Be Quantified
Sustainable timber harvest levels are influenced by the amount and productivity of forest land where timber harvest is allowed and the timber management practices applied to the forest land available for harvest. For example, forest management policies changed significantly on federal forest lands in the early 1990s. Large areas once available for timber harvest were designated as late-successional and riparian reserves, where little or no timber harvest was allowed. Consequently, timber harvests on federal lands have declined by approximately
ninety percent. Recent timber harvest volumes, by ownership, are shown in the table below.
Table 13-1. Recent timber harvest volumes in Oregon, by landowner and year, 1994-98
Land Owner Group
YearForest IndustryOther PrivateIndian LandsStateBLMUSFSOther PublicTotal
 Million Board Feet       
Timber for Oregon’s Tomorrow: The 1989 Update (Sessions, et al. 1990) contains an in-depth assessment of sustainable timber harvest levels. The Oregon Department of Forestry updated the assessment for private lands in 1990 (Greber, et al. 1990). In both studies, the average harvest level from 1983 through 1987 was used as a reference period from which to compare projected sustainable harvests from private lands and sustainable harvest levels from the existing federal forest management plans. Table 13-2 shows 1983 through 1987 average Oregon harvest levels and sustainable harvest level projections published in the 1990 update.
Table 13-2. 1983-87 timber harvest levels and projected sustainable harvest levels in Oregon
OwnerMillion board feet per year  
 1983 – 1987Sustainable 
 National Forest3,3702,803
 Bureau of Land Management511,019
 State and Other Government387438
 Forest Industry29522,755

The peak of timber harvesting in Oregon occurred in 1952, when 9.8 billion board-feet were harvested. Timber harvest in Oregon ranged between 8 or 9 billion board-feet per year from 1950 though the mid-1970s. The highest harvest level in the 1960s occurred in 1968, with 9.7 billion board-feet harvested. During the recession of the early 1980s, timber harvests dropped to between 5.5 and 7.5 billion board-feet annually, and then went back up to between 8 and 9 billion board-feet annually from 1985 to 1990.
Historically, approximately half the timber harvests in Oregon came from public forest lands and half from private lands. In 1993, Johnson estimated that federal timber harvests in western Oregon would be sustainable at 711 million board-feet (mmbf), a reduction of 943 mmbf below the previous sustainable harvest level under previous management plans (Johnson, et. al., 1993). In eastern Oregon, new plans have not yet been completed for federal forest lands; therefore, a reliable assessment of sustainable federal timber harvests can not be made. Currently, total federal timber harvest levels in Oregon are approximately 400 mmbf per year.
As shown in Figure 13-1, since 1990 timber harvest levels have dropped steadily in Oregon, primarily due to the reductions in harvests from federal lands. The 1998 harvest in Oregon was 3.5 billion board feet. Total private harvest in Oregon in 1998 was 2.8 billion board feet, well below the sustainable levels shown in Table 13-2. The current total harvest level from all ownerships in Oregon is also below sustainable levels under several different estimates of what constitutes a sustainable harvest level (Figure 13-2).
Figure 13-1. Oregon’s timber harvests by owner group, 1966-98
Figure 13-2. Oregon timber harvests vs. sustainable levels, 1849-1998

Data Source and Availability
  Data on timber harvests are available from Oregon Timber Harvest Reports, published annually by the Oregon Department of Forestry on the following website:
Oregon Department of Forestry. Annual reports.

Reliability of Data
Oregon Timber Harvest Report data are high quality. Harvest information is compiled from Oregon harvest tax information and from the U.S. Forest Service, BLM, and Oregon Department of Forestry.

Data is available by county, ownership, and year.

Recommended Action for Data Collection

Timber harvest reports include volume removed (softwood and hardwood) as logs, poles, and pilings, but not volume removed from woodcutting operations or per-acre-material (PAM).

Selected References
Greber, Brian J., and K. Norman Johnson, Gary Lettman. 1990. Conservation plans for the northern spotted owl and other forest management proposals in Oregon: the economics of changing timber availability. Forest Research Lab, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.
Johnson, K Norman., and Sarah Crim, Klaus Barber, Mike Howell, Chris Cadwell. 1993. Sustainable harvest levels and short-term timber sales for options considered in the report of the Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team: methods, results and interpretations. Forest Research Lab, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.
Oregon Department of Forestry. 1994. History of Oregon’s timber harvests and of lumber production. Salem, OR. Oregon Department of Forestry, Salem, OR.
Session, John, and Norman K. Johnson, John Beuter, Brian Greber, Gary Lettman. 1990. Timber for Oregon’s tomorrow: the 1989 update. Forest Research Lab, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.