Study compares carbon benefits of forest management practices in Oregon
Release Date: 02-23-2011

PORTLAND, Ore. – Ecotrust today announced the results of a carbon analysis for Oregon’s Elliott State Forest. The study evaluated potential carbon storage under a range of forest management scenarios, and found that the carbon storage benefits of reducing timber harvests on the Elliott from 40 million to 30 million board feet each year would be equivalent to removing 10,000 cars from U.S. highways.

“Ecotrust’s analysis demonstrates one of the many important public benefits provided by the State’s forests,” said Nancy Hirsch, Chief of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s State Forests Division.

Paul Henson, State Supervisor for the Oregon Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, agreed. “Climate change could have profound impacts on everything from owl habitat to seasonal water flows. Studies like this help us better understand the important role that Pacific Northwest forests could play in mitigating for those disruptions.”

Ecotrust modeled forest growth, timber yield, and carbon storage for three proposed management plans under consideration by state and regulatory agencies. Each of the plans would meet the legal requirements of both the Oregon Forest Practices Act and the Endangered Species Act while allowing different timber harvest levels of 30, 35 or 40 million board feet. [Such timber harvest levels have been reached in four years since 1996.]

The analysis of carbon storage potential was initiated by the Oregon Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Oregon Departments of Forestry, and State Lands collaborated with Ecotrust on the study. It is the first of its kind to compare the carbon benefits of management options on state-managed lands. The Oregon Global Warming Commission has recommended a full carbon inventory of the State’s forestlands.

In addition to the proposed management plans, Ecotrust evaluated alternative scenarios that included: a maximum carbon storage scenario, in which no timber was harvested on the Elliott; and a minimum carbon storage scenario, in which all Elliott lands were assumed to be managed primarily for timber production. Results indicate that if no harvests occurred on the Elliott, the total amount of its carbon storage by 2050 would be equivalent to nearly 70% of Oregon’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions for 2007, the most recent year for which data are available.

The Department of Forestry manages the Elliott under contract with the Department of State Lands. The forest consists primarily of forestland granted to Oregon at statehood, with a mandate to provide revenue for public schools.

The full report, “Carbon Analysis of Proposed Forest Management Regimes on the Elliott State Forest,” is available on the Ecotrust website.

About Ecotrust
Over nearly 20 years, Ecotrust has converted $60 million in grants into more than $300 million in capital for local people, businesses, and organizations from Alaska to California. Ecotrust’s many innovations include co-founding the world’s first environmental bank, starting the world’s first ecosystem investment fund, creating a range of programs in fisheries, forestry, food, farms and children’s health, and developing new scientific and information tools to improve social, economic and environmental decision-making. Ecotrust works locally in ways that promise hope abroad, and it honors and supports the wisdom of Native and First Nation leadership in its work. More on the Web at