Silviculturists say there are key differences between an old growth tree and an old growth forest. (In the case of forests, old growth is measured by the complexity of the entire ecosystem rather than the age or diameter of individual trees.) Even members of Oregon’s congressional delegation Representative Peter DeFazio and Senator Ron Wyden don’t see eye-to-eye on old growth.
The age of old growth is not a question confined to the realm of the theoretical. It has direct policy implications, as proposals for managing the state’s 27.3 million acres of the forest land call for specific protections for old growth trees. Old growth trees are key to the habitat of endangered species such as the spotted owl and they also absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide.
Do you have experience in Oregon’s forests — harvesting wood, opposing logging or just enjoying the trees? How do you know when you’re in an old growth forest or in the presence of an ancient tree? How old is old growth?
- Tom Spies: Research forester with the US Forest Service at the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis and courtesy professor at the Oregon State University College of Forestry
- Tom Partin: President of the American Forest Resource Council
- Josh Laughlin: Conservation director for Cascadia Wildlands Project
- Mike Mottice: Deputy state director for resource planning, use and protection for the Bureau of Land Management