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Institute Testifies at Oregon Joint Interim Committee on Carbon Reduction Hearing
On July 24th 2018 the Oregon Joint Interim Committee on Carbon Reduction held a hearing to consider sequestration and adaptation on working lands in developing new state carbon reduction legislation. Brian Kittler, Director of the Institute's Western Regional Office, testified on how the legislature should approach Oregon's forestland in this new legislation. Conclusions from the Institute's testimony are below; a PDF of the full written testimony can be downloaded here. For information on the committee or to view other testimony from the hearing visit the Joint Interim Committee on Carbon Reduction's website.

Summary: Testimony to the Joint Committee on Carbon Policy of the Oregon Legislature
July 24, 2018

Climate change will impact Oregon’s forests in several ways. A range of impacts will occur in the variety of forest types existing across the state. Flexibility will be needed by forest managers to address climate change through mitigation, adaptation, and where possible, joint mitigation and adaptation (JMA) strategies. Flexibility will also be needed in technical assistance and funding programs.

Critical to all this is: (1) maintaining forests as forests, (2) preserving forests with high carbon stocks, and (3) aiding the recovery of forests with depleted carbon stocks. In Southern and Eastern Oregon, increased prescribed burning and mechanical treatments may be needed to protect against increasing fire risk and subsequent carbon loss. In some instances this may result in short-term negative carbon consequences. Whereas strategies in Western Oregon can take advantage of having some of the most productive forests globally.

Current harvesting cycles on private lands in Western Oregon leave the most productive forests predominantly under 40 years old, consequentially they are storing a third or less of their ecological potential as a carbon sinks. Extending rotations to the culmination of mean annual increment, i.e. the point of maximum wood accumulation, is a more optimal carbon strategy than the current scenario.

In doing so, it is possible to sequester roughly an additional 200,000,000 metric CO2e over the next 40 - 50 years. This is a technical maximum that assumes 100% participation on all forests currently 40 years or less. Feasible opportunities for improved stocking in the Coast Range will be dictated by economics, social acceptability, and policy.

A range of strategies can be implemented to secure existing carbon sinks, expand the forest carbon sink while keeping it resilient, and invest in the forest economy in a manner aligned with carbon goals. Co-benefits to these strategies include an increase in the value of wood at harvest, diversifying the forest products sector, enhanced adaptive capacity, as well as many other ecological benefits.
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