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    Author(s): Jonathan Thompson
    Date: 2005
    Source: Science Findings 78. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (670.0 KB)


    In response to the highly uncertain outcomes inherent in forest management, “options forestry” has been introduced as a novel approach that includes an honest appraisal of uncertainties and learning as a specific objective. The strategy is unique in that it uses a variety of management pathways, all designed to reach the same goal, and structures them in a rigorous statistical design to reduce and spread the risks associated with failure.

    In the first application of options forestry, researchers at the PNW Station collaborated with managers at the Siuslaw National Forest to create the Five Rivers Landscape Management Project. Their objective was to convert thousands of acres of young productive plantations into old-growth forests—something that had never been tried at a landscape scale. Three approaches—passive management, pulsed thinning, and continuous access thinning—are now being applied simultaneously in a replicated design distributed across the 32,000-acre watershed in coastal Oregon.

    By implementing a variety of legitimate approaches, managers can keep from putting all their eggs in one basket, and they may also discover more than one way to achieve their goal. Furthermore, by using strategies that appeal to multiple stakeholders, options forestry allows groups to see their ideas in practice, at least in part of the landscape.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Thompson, Jonathan. 2005. Acting on uncertainty in landscape management—options forestry. Science Findings 78. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p

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