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2020 Oregon Logging Conference Theme Working Forests: Carbon Keepers

The following statement was issued by 2020 Oregon Logging Conference President Greg Stratton, on the theme selected for the 82nd Annual OLC

The Theme “Working Forests: Carbon Keepers” was chosen to highlight the fact that our working Forests are some of the most effective Carbon Sequesters and as a result of harvesting these forests and turning them into wood products, they are carbon keepers.

Trees store carbon at the highest rate when they are actively growing, once a tree begins to mature, it slows its carbon intake and when the tree matures the process reverses, releasing CO2 back into the atmosphere. This means that to maximize carbon sequestration of a forest, trees must be harvested at their peak growth and the ground replanted so the process can be repeated – this is a “Working Forest”. This type of working forest provides family wage jobs, economic stability and one of the most effective natural ways to pull CO2 from the air and store it for the long term. The alternative is what we have had on Federal Lands for the past 3 decades, unmanaged forests.

Unmanaged forests leave trees to either die from bug infestations, competition from younger thriftier trees, wildfire or other natural disasters. All of these options cause the release of CO2 back into the atmosphere at varying rates from slowly over a few decades in the case of decay, to sudden in the case of high intensity wildfire where the trees are largely turned to ash. The most prevalent of these options, wildfire has a much more severe short-term consequence than just climate change, most notably air quality, the destruction of entire towns and the loss of human lives. The months of degraded air quality from larger and larger wildfires is having immediate and long-term effects on humans, agriculture and wildlife. The number of acres burned each year tells the tale of managed and unmanaged forests. Some claim this is due to climate change, but the impact of unmanaged forests cannot be ignored. Some of these unmanaged forests are often not replanted, further compounding the impacts by reducing the amount of carbon storage for decades. The only option that does not guarantee the release of the carbon back into the atmosphere in a relatively short time is using the wood in products that will store the carbon until the product or structure is allowed to decay or burn AND replanting trees for the next generation, in other words “Working Forests”.

Greg Stratton, President, 2020 Oregon Logging Conference