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Society of American Foresters

Principles of Sustainable Forestry

Why do we think the search for sustainability important? Hal Salwassar, Dean of the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, offers us a background to our discussion. As a professional forester with years of experience in the social and political arenas, Dr. Salwassar recognizes the need to understand the past in order to make appropriate and sustainable choices in the future. So where have we and our forest resources been, and where are we going?

First, we need to keep in mind that forests are major ecosystems. This graph illustrates the percent of land area in forest. About a quarter of land worldwide is forested; around a third in the US; and nearly half in both Oregon and Washington. Graph: percent of land area forested in the world, US, and three western states

Extensive forest cover is primarily found in the Rocky mountains and west, and east of the Mississippi. It is conspicuously absent in the Great Plains.

Map: Forest of the United States