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Criterion 2 Summary
Introduction
 
Timber and non-timber forest products are very important to Oregon’s economy. Many factors influence the capacity of Oregon’s forests to sustain commercial production of various forest products. Disturbances, both natural and human-caused; timber harvest levels; introduction of foreign and invasive species; and other land uses all affect the productive capacity of forests. In order to maintain the productive capacity of our forests, we must know how much forest land there is, and how the land is being used and managed.
 
Five indicators are used to measure how well the productive capacity of Oregon’s forests is being maintained. The five indicators include: land available for timber production, merchantable and non-merchantable growing stock available for timber production, area and growing stock of plantations, and the sustainable removal of wood and non-wood products.

Summary
Forest land available for timber production — The amount of land available for timber harvest has been steadily decreasing because there has been a steady increase in the amount of land where timber harvest is prohibited or restricted. In 1960 about 0.5 percent of all forest land in Oregon was reserved, in Oregon’s single national park. By 1990, 9 percent of the total forest land base had restrictions of various kinds (2.4 million acres). Currently, there are approximately 9.94 million acres of timberland, or about 35 percent of the land base, that has some sort of restriction limiting timber harvest.
 
Growing stock — Currently, there are approximately 94,707 million cubic-feet (mmcf) of merchantable and 48,392 mmcf of non-merchantable timber in Oregon. The bulk of the volume is on federal lands (70,332 mmcf) where little timber harvest is expected.
 
Plantations — In Oregon, it has been popular for about 30 years to plant live tree seedlings in a harvested area. Forest plantations now account for a significant amount of growing stock, mostly in western Oregon where 3.8 million acres of planted forests account for 4.7 billion cubic feet of growing stock. Because uneven-aged silvicultural systems are generally used in eastern Oregon, there are only 590,000 acres of planted forests in eastern Oregon, with little growing stock associated with them.
 
Annual removal of wood products, compared to sustainable levels — From 1950 through the mid-1970s, historic timber harvest levels were around 8 or 9 billion board feet annually in Oregon. Since 1990 harvest levels in Oregon have steadily declined, due mainly to federal harvest reductions. In 1996 Oregon harvested about 3.9 billion board feet of timber. Private lands have historically been harvested close to a sustainable level of 3.5 billion board feet. Public lands are being harvested at a rate that is far lower than the amount that is estimated to be sustainable.
Non-timber forest products — Non-wood products have traditionally been important to many different groups in Oregon. These products include plants and fungi, floral greens, wild edible plants, etc. Commercial harvest is becoming increasingly important for many types of non-wood products. However, data is lacking as to the amount harvested each year. Also, we do not know enough about forest ecosystems to adequately determine what is and is not a sustainable harvest level for non-wood forest products.
 

Data Needs
 
  Many authors compare the amount of timber harvest in a given period to the amount of timber growth in that same period, as a measure of sustainability. If growth exceeds harvest, then the harvested volume is sustainable. That information has been compiled for non-federal lands from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) plots, but the information is not available for federal lands. It would be desirable to develop a common database for all forest lands in Oregon, by combining all the federal ground-based sampling systems (USFS, BLM, FIA) into a single database with common attributes.
 
There is little historical data about the amount of forest land available for the harvest of non-timber forest products, or about the amounts of non-wood forest products annually harvested. Scientific knowledge is also lacking about what would be sustainable harvest levels of non-wood products