Synthesis of science to inform land management within the Northwest Forest Plan areaAuthor(s): Thomas A. Spies; Peter A. Stine; Rebecca A. Gravenmier; Jonathan W. Long; Matthew J. Reilly
Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-966. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 1020 p. 3 vol.
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (45.0 MB)
DescriptionThe 1994 Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) was developed to resolve debates over old-growth forests, endangered species, and timber production on federal forests in the range of the northern spotted owl. This three-volume science synthesis, which consists of 12 chapters that address various ecological and social concerns, is intended to inform forest plan revision and forest management within the NWFP area. Land managers with the U.S. Forest Service provided questions that helped guide preparation of the synthesis, which builds on the 10-, 15-, and 20-year NWFP monitoring reports and synthesizes the vast body of relevant scientific literature that has accumulated in the 24 years since the NWFP was initiated. It identifies scientific findings, lessons learned, and uncertainties and also evaluates competing science and provides considerations for management.
This synthesis finds that the NWFP has protected dense old-growth forests and maintained habitat for northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets, aquatic organisms, and other species despite losses from wildfire and low levels of timber harvest on federal lands. Even with reductions in the loss of older forests, northern spotted owl populations continue to decline. Moreover, a number of other goals have not been met, including producing a sustainable supply of timber, decommissioning roads, biodiversity monitoring, significant levels of restoration of riparian and dry forests, and adaptation and learning through adaptive management.
New conservation concerns have arisen, including a major threat to spotted owl populations from expanding populations of the nonnative barred owl, effects of fire suppression on forest succession, fire behavior in dry forests, and lack of development of diverse early-seral vegetation as a result of fire suppression in drier parts of moist forests. Climate change and invasive species have emerged as threats to native biodiversity, and expansion of the wildland-urban interface has limited the ability of managers to restore fire to fire-dependent ecosystems.
The policy, social, and ecological contexts for the NWFP have changed since it was implemented. The contribution of federal lands continues to be essential to the conservation and recovery of fish listed under the Endangered Species Act and northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet populations. Conservation on federal lands alone, however, is likely insufficient to reach the goals of the NWFP or the newer goals of the 2012 planning rule, which emphasizes managing for ecosystem goals (e.g. ecological resilience) and a few species of concern, rather than the population viability of hundreds of individual species.
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CitationSpies, T.A.; Stine, P.A.; Gravenmier, R.; Long, J.W.; Reilly, M.J., tech. coords. 2018. Synthesis of science to inform land management within the Northwest Forest Plan area. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-966. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 1020 p. 3 vol.
KeywordsNorthwest Forest Plan, science, management, restoration, northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, climate change, socioeconomic, environmental justice.
- Synthesis of science to inform land management within the Northwest Forest Plan area: executive summary
- Chapter 6: Other species and biodiversity of older forests
- Chapter 5: Marbled murrelet
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