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Correction published on 26 February 2016, see Forests 2016, 7(3), 53.

Open AccessReview
Forests 2015, 6(9), 3326-3352; doi:10.3390/f6093326

Building on Two Decades of Ecosystem Management and Biodiversity Conservation under the Northwest Forest Plan, USA

1
Geos Institute, 84-4th Street, Ashland, OR 97520, USA
2
Independent Consultant, 2879 Southeast Kelly Street, Portland, OR 97202, USA
3
Oregon Wild, P.O. Box 11648, Eugene, OR 97440, USA
4
Flathead Lake Biological Station, 32125 Bio Station Lane, University of Montana, Polson, MT 59860-6815 USA
5
Galaxy View Court, Sequim, WA 98382, USA
6
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, 104 Nash Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-3803, USA
7
Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
8
Conservation Earth Consulting
9
Conservation Biology Institute, 136 SW Washington Ave #202, Corvallis, OR 97333, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Diana F. Tomback
Received: 20 June 2015 / Revised: 14 September 2015 / Accepted: 14 September 2015 / Published: 22 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity and Conservation in Forests)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [537 KB, uploaded 29 February 2016]   |  

Abstract

The 1994 Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) shifted federal lands management from a focus on timber production to ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation. The plan established a network of conservation reserves and an ecosystem management strategy on ~10 million hectares from northern California to Washington State, USA, within the range of the federally threatened northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). Several subsequent assessments—and 20 years of data from monitoring programs established under the plan—have demonstrated the effectiveness of this reserve network and ecosystem management approach in making progress toward attaining many of the plan’s conservation and ecosystem management goals. This paper (1) showcases the fundamental conservation biology and ecosystem management principles underpinning the NWFP as a case study for managers interested in large-landscape conservation; and (2) recommends improvements to the plan’s strategy in response to unprecedented climate change and land-use threats. Twenty years into plan implementation, however, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, under pressure for increased timber harvest, are retreating from conservation measures. We believe that federal agencies should instead build on the NWFP to ensure continuing success in the Pacific Northwest. We urge federal land managers to (1) protect all remaining late-successional/old-growth forests; (2) identify climate refugia for at-risk species; (3) maintain or increase stream buffers and landscape connectivity; (4) decommission and repair failing roads to improve water quality; (5) reduce fire risk in fire-prone tree plantations; and (6) prevent logging after fires in areas of high conservation value. In many respects, the NWFP is instructive for managers considering similar large-scale conservation efforts. View Full-Text
Keywords: biodiversity; climate change; ecological integrity; ecosystem management; global forest model; Northwest Forest Plan; northern spotted owl biodiversity; climate change; ecological integrity; ecosystem management; global forest model; Northwest Forest Plan; northern spotted owl
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

DellaSala, D.A.; Baker, R.; Heiken, D.; Frissell, C.A.; Karr, J.R.; Nelson, S.K.; Noon, B.R.; Olson, D.; Strittholt, J. Building on Two Decades of Ecosystem Management and Biodiversity Conservation under the Northwest Forest Plan, USA. Forests 2015, 6, 3326-3352.

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