Modern forestry, driven by science and a commitment to stewardship, is ensuring that Washington’s privately owned forests are setting the standard for sustainability. It’s part of our heritage.
Few people outside the forestry industry know that the revolution that transformed forestry in the last century began here.
In 1941, the nation’s first tree farm was established in Montesano, Wash., in Grays Harbor County. It was one small step in an evolution from a business focused on cutting into one in which growing is critical to success.
Now, each year forest landowners in Washington plant an average of 52 million tree seedlings in areas that have been harvested. On average, that’s three seedlings planted by hand for every one tree removed.
Replanting is just part of the day-to-day in working forests, a sustainable practice that ensures after harvest a new forest begins to grow quickly, usually within 12 to 18 months.
More than one-half of Washington’s land area is covered in forest. Today, roughly two-thirds of that forestland is managed by state, federal, and tribal governments; one-third is privately owned.
Because of the diversity of ownership of Washington’s forestlands a variety of economic, social, and environmental needs can be met.
More than 30 percent of the softwood lumber produced in the nation comes from Washington and Oregon forests. Forestry on privately owned land accounts for about 70 percent of the wood harvested in our state each year.
From the time a tree is planted in privately owned working forest, to the final harvest, to the manufacture into renewable wood products used in modern buildings, our forestry and wood products are green from the seedling to the final product.
Working forests are complex.
They are factories for clean air, farms for renewable, carbon-friendly wood, and habitats for wildlife on land and in the streams running through them.
We rely on science to guide decisions about managing these complex ecosystems. We look to new technology to provide us ways of improving our work and the products made from renewable timber.
Today’s forestry is using the best available science to improve and evolve forest practices to achieve goals for sustainability and environmental protection.
In all phases —surveying, planting, harvesting — being on the cutting edge is now business as usual in working forests.
Forest practices are the result of more than a century of experience from learning by doing and scientific study of the effects of forest management on the natural environment.
Because forestry is a long-term investment, we can’t know everything today about resource management, so we use the best science to guide our actions.
Adaptive management is one method of scientifically analyzing what is actually happening in the forests to fine-tune practices in ways that achieve better results.
It is a way of monitoring Washington’s forest practice rules to ensure the objectives of restoring wildlife habitat and protecting water quality are being met. If these objectives are not met through existing practices, changes will be made based on scientific research.
By gathering and evaluating the results of our actions, we are in a position to improve.