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Forest cover changes in the Oregon Coast Range from 1939 to 1993.Author(s): Rebecca S.H. Kennedy; Thomas A. Spies
Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 200: 129-147
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
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DescriptionUnderstanding the shifts over time in the distribution and amount of forest vegetation types in relation to forest management and environmental conditions is critical for many policy and ecological questions. Our objective was to assess the influences of ownership and environment on changes !n forest vegetation from post-settlement historical to recent times in the central Coast Range of Oregon. We evaluated land cover types on 1475 20 m plots, using scanned, geo-referenced historical (1939) and recent (1993) aerial photos. The amount of older conifer cover declined by 63% relative to its former amount, from 36 to 13% of the landscape, during the 54-year period. Dominant ownership of older conifer stands shifted from industrial private to Forest Service lands. Younger conifer stands showed the greatest expansion in cover, increasing more than two-fold, from 21 to 44% of the landscape. Shrub and hardwood cover declined by 16%, from 31 to 25% of the landscape. Shrubs and hardwoods occurred at lower slope positions and closer to streams at the end of the period than at the beginning. Ownership was not an important determinant of the presence of large and very large conifer cover or shrub and hardwood cover in 1939, but was a very important factor affecting the presence of these cover types in 1993. Landscape transitional pathways were distributed among many types and no single transitional pathway was dominant. Even the most stable cover types (hardwood trees and herbs) had low absolute stability, with over 65% of their plots changing to another cover type by 1993. Our research indicates that the importance of ownership as a factor affecting the type of vegetation cover present has increased greatly during this time, whereas the relative influence of environment has lessened considerably. Land owners in the Oregon Coast Range have altered the cover and distribution of vegetation in diverse ways, changing the landscape to one dominated by young conifers, shifting the distribution of younger successional shrubs and hardwoods toward streams, and restricting the location of older coniferous stands to particular ownerships and site types.
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CitationKennedy, Rebecca S.H.; Spies, Thomas A. 2004. Forest cover changes in the Oregon Coast Range from 1939 to 1993. Forest Ecology and Management. 200: 129-147
KeywordsForest dynamics, land cover change, old growth, historical landscapes, Oregon Coast Range, forest management
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