Date: February 4, 2019
Source: Oregon State University
Twenty-five years into a 100-year federal strategy to protect older forests in the Pacific Northwest, forest losses to wildfire are up and declines in bird populations have not been reversed, new research shows.
The findings, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, underscore the importance of continuing to prioritize the safeguarding of older forests, the scientists say -- forests characterized by a complex structure that includes multiple canopy layers, large trees, downed wood and snags.
The researchers stress it's vital to remember that upon its adoption in 1994, the Northwest Forest Plan was conceived as a century-long plan, and was not expected to show significant positive impacts on biodiversity for 50 years.
"Trees in the northwestern United States are some of the longest-lived and largest in the world," said Matt Betts of Oregon State University. "Douglas-fir can live to be more than 800 years old and grow to be more than 100 meters tall, so it shouldn't be surprising that it is hard to 'restore' this forest type, and that any plan to do so will take a long time.
"The plan has been one of the most impressive forest conservation strategies in the world, and there is no doubt that it has had a strong positive impact on the conservation of old-growth forests, but our results show that even with these strong conservation measures, bird species living in this system still aren't doing too well."