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:: Home > Forests and Timber > Reproduction Methods > Clearcutting > FAQ

"How many acres are being harvested with clearcutting?"

What surprises most people is that, statewide, at any given time, more acres are being partial-cut than are being clearcut.

Clearcutting and partial-cutting are tools of the forester's trade. Each harvest unit is planned individually, so the decision whether to clearcut or partial-cut is made for each piece of land to be harvested. Neither method is ideal for all lands.

What surprises many people is that, statewide, at any given time, foresters generally prescribe partial-cutting on more acres of land each year than we do clearcutting. Partial cutting includes thinning young stands to give more growing space to the remaining trees, as well as selective cutting that is used in areas where clearcutting isn't the best option. Clearcuts are often more visible, but if we look closely at some of the tree-filled stands in Oregon, you may see that timber has been harvested from these same stands by partial cutting. Stands of trees that were thinned or partial-cut may later be clearcut.

Each area of Oregon is different: some regions of Oregon use clearcutting on more land than partial-cutting, while in other regions it is the opposite. This is for a good reason: Oregon is diverse forest types, geography, and climate, which encourages us to use different management strategies to achieve one of our goals: to harvest timber while at the same time protecting our forest resources. For example, clearcutting is the method of choice in much of western Oregon when the objective is to regrow forests of sun-loving species like Douglas-fir, while selective cutting is often used in the dry ponderosa pine forests of eastern Oregon.

Below is a snapshot of our timber harvesting activities in Oregon. The total number of acres harvested in 1997 is equivalent to about 3 percent of our total area of forest lands, while the ten-year average was around 2 percent.

From: Oregon Department of Forestry 1997 Harvest Report