Oregon forests and climate change...

Eugene, Oregon, USA: A forum for Friends of Eugene and discussion of Eugene-related land use, transportation, livability, environment, economic justice, and environmental quality issues.

Oregon forests and climate change...

Postby Kevin » Tue Jan 29, 2008 7:31 pm

Dear Mayor Piercy and Eugene City Council,

At a conference on the UO campus this weekend *, two scientists from the Forestry Department at Oregon State spoke about the connection between the forests of the Pacific Northwest, climate change, and carbon storage. Key conclusions of their presentation might be applicable to a resolution scheduled to come before you soon.

As you know, anthropogenic carbon emissions are now changing the Earth's atmosphere at an unprecedented rate, leading to disastrous consequences, which it is our responsibility (as well as in our direct interest) to mitigate aggressively.

We often wonder these days what role the extensive forest lands of western Oregon might play in addressing climate change. It was exciting on Saturday to hear some substantive answers from authoritative sources.

In summary, our forests have...

A) Worldwide significance for preventing additional carbon release to the atmosphere:

Pacific Northwest forests have some of the highest potential worldwide for continued carbon storage, because of the significant fraction that still remains in old growth. Old growth Northwest forests store large amounts of carbon, most of which would be released to the atmosphere in any logging senario.

B) Worldwide significance for removing excess carbon already in the atmosphere:

At the same time, Pacific Northwest forests have some of the highest potential worldwide for new carbon storage, because of the significant fraction that has been managed in recent generations on short logging cycles. These young forests will continue to store new carbon, taking it out of the atmosphere, at substantial rates for the next hundred years and more - as long as they are allowed to remain unlogged.

Complete PowerPoint slides for the presentation by Olga N. Krankina and Mark E. Harmon, Department of Forest Science, OSU are available online at:

One key slide is attached below as a JPEG image.

It's scientifically clear that before launching a major increase in logging of Pacific Northwest forests, the climate implications of such a change in practices should be carefully and thoroughly analyzed.

There are enormous environmental costs to logging in general, and old growth logging in particular. Whether inside our own UGB, or in the multiple use forests of the BLM and other Federal agencies, it is time for us to fully understand and acknowledge these costs, before we cut more old trees.

It is even conceivable that the value of Oregon forests in the narrow economic terms of the archaic O&C Act could be higher through conservation, than through stumpage.


Kevin Matthews
Friends of Eugene


* Conference web site: http://www.forestclimate.org/

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