Every year, it takes one tree, 16 inches in trunk diameter and 100 feet tall, to meet every American’s need for paper, packaging, and lumber products. If that tree was harvested in Oregon, it was logged using strict environmental protections.
In Oregon, the goal is sustainable forestry. The logging industry there works to meet current societal needs for forestry products while ensuring that future generations will be able to enjoy the same benefits from abundant forest resources that we do today. Much of Oregon has been heavily logged in the past, but in western Oregon, where these Landsat images are focused, nearly 1 million acres of intact, old growth forests remain. And almost all land in Oregon that is logged is reforested.
One reason for the goal of sustainable forestry in Oregon is the Northwest Forest Plan, adopted in 1994, which resulted in a decline in forest harvesting on federal lands. After the plan was implemented, harvesting rates became longer to accommodate regrowth, and more partial cuts were used instead of clearcuts. The plan also works to protect old growth forest while maintaining sustainable logging.
A multi-image time-series from Landsat can create “regrowth trajectories.” The 30-m resolution from Landsat is enough detail to see the harvest rotation cycle. Douglas fir in western Oregon can regrow to a closed canopy stage in 15–20 years, so the time frame of the Landsat record can show just over one harvest rotation cycle.
Even from one year to the next, there is change. For example, look closely at the recent images. Can you find new cleared areas in the green forest land?
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