Environmental Management

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 112–121 | Cite as

High-Biomass Forests of the Pacific Northwest: Who Manages Them and How Much is Protected?

  • Olga N. KrankinaEmail author
  • Dominick A. DellaSala
  • Jessica Leonard
  • Mikhail Yatskov


To examine ownership and protection status of forests with high-biomass stores (>200 Mg/ha) in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) region of the United States, we used the latest versions of publicly available datasets. Overlay, aggregation, and GIS-based computation of forest area in broad biomass classes in the PNW showed that the National Forests contained the largest area of high-biomass forests (48.4 % of regional total), but the area of high-biomass forest on private lands was important as well (22.8 %). Between 2000 and 2008, the loss of high-biomass forests to fire on the National Forests was 7.6 % (236,000 ha), while the loss of high-biomass forest to logging on private lands (364,000 ha) exceeded the losses to fire across all ownerships. Many remaining high-biomass forest stands are vulnerable to future harvest as only 20 % are strictly protected from logging, while 26 % are not protected at all. The level of protection for high-biomass forests varies by state, for example, 31 % of all high-biomass federal forests in Washington are in high-protection status compared to only 9 % in Oregon. Across the conterminous US, high-biomass forest covers <3 % of all forest land and the PNW region holds 56.8 % of this area or 5.87 million ha. Forests with high-biomass stores are important to document and monitor as they are scarce, often threatened by harvest and development, and their disturbance including timber harvest results in net C losses to the atmosphere that can take a new generation of trees many decades or centuries to offset.


Forest biomass Forest management Forest conservation Carbon Pacific Northwest 



The research was supported by a grant from the Wilburforce Foundation (Conservation Science Program). The authors thank Andy Gray for advice on treatment and analysis of FIA data, Fabio Goncalves, and Harold Zald for assistance with FIA plot data processing, Warren Cohen, Jeff Masek, Maria Fiorella and other participants of ForestSat Conference (11–14 September, 2012, Corvallis, OR, USA) for their input on preliminary results of this study and Randi Spivak for manuscript reviews.

Supplementary material

267_2014_283_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (108 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 109 kb)
267_2014_283_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (189 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 190 kb)
267_2014_283_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (356 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 356 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olga N. Krankina
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dominick A. DellaSala
    • 2
  • Jessica Leonard
    • 2
  • Mikhail Yatskov
    • 1
  1. 1.College of ForestryOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Geos InstituteAshlandUSA

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