Ecosystems

, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 1106–1119

The Relative Impact of Harvest and Fire upon Landscape-Level Dynamics of Older Forests: Lessons from the Northwest Forest Plan

  • Sean P. Healey
  • Warren B. Cohen
  • Thomas A. Spies
  • Melinda Moeur
  • Dirk Pflugmacher
  • M. German Whitley
  • Michael Lefsky
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10021-008-9182-8

Cite this article as:
Healey, S.P., Cohen, W.B., Spies, T.A. et al. Ecosystems (2008) 11: 1106. doi:10.1007/s10021-008-9182-8

Abstract

Interest in preserving older forests at the landscape level has increased in many regions, including the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) of 1994 initiated a significant reduction in the harvesting of older forests on federal land. We used historical satellite imagery to assess the effect of this reduction in relation to: past harvest rates, management of non-federal forests, and the growing role of fire. Harvest rates in non-federal large-diameter forests (LDF) either decreased or remained stable at relatively high rates following the NWFP, meaning that harvest reductions on federal forests, which cover half of the region, resulted in a significant regional drop in the loss of LDF to harvest. However, increased losses of LDF to fire outweighed reductions in LDF harvest across large areas of the region. Elevated fire levels in the western United States have been correlated to changing climatic conditions, and if recent fire patterns persist, preservation of older forests in dry ecosystems will depend upon practical and coordinated fire management across the landscape.

Keywords

disturbance fire landsat forest management Northwest Forest Plan old growth 

Supplementary material

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sean P. Healey
    • 1
  • Warren B. Cohen
    • 2
  • Thomas A. Spies
    • 2
  • Melinda Moeur
    • 3
  • Dirk Pflugmacher
    • 4
  • M. German Whitley
    • 2
  • Michael Lefsky
    • 5
  1. 1.U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest ServiceRocky Mountain Research StationOgdenUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research StationCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest ServicePortlandUSA
  4. 4.Oregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  5. 5.Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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