One Size Fits All?
“Logging is the business of cutting down trees. Forestry is the art and science of tending a forest.”
Managing Oregon's forests is a controversial enterprise, in part because of the complex and sometimes less tangible benefits – like views and recreational opportunities – which they provide in addition to timber. Forests offer what some scientists call "ecosystem services" – absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen, holding soil in place and filtering water to keep streams and rivers clean. The woods also provide an economy for mushroom and moss pickers. And, of course, they are the habitat for a long list of species, some of them threatened or endangered.
Recent research has brought to light the near-poetic connection between marine ecosystems and forests made possible by the journey of salmon. Chemical analysis of trees shows that in many watersheds trees contain forms or isotopes of elements like carbon, nitrogen and sulfur that are specific to the oceans where salmon feed for part of their lifecycle. On return from saltwater to the freshwater streams of their birth, salmon spawn and die, releasing these elements as fertilizer and reciprocating for the clean, cold water that forests help to provide.
“You cannot separate environmental issues from economic issues and community issues. You cannot deal with them in isolation... You know, the politics of the 21st century have got to be about the politics of integration.”
Should every forest be managed for the same set of objectives?
On both public and private lands, the objectives of foresters guide the approach they use to harvest timber.