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Western Silviculture Survey 2023 Results: 2020 Wildfires Still Burn Landowners

This post highlights featured research on our 2023 western silviculture survey from the Q2 2023 Forisk Research Quarterly (FRQ), which includes forest industry analysis and timber price forecasts for North America.

In 2023, Forisk completed our fourth survey of western silvicultural practices[1].  Our 2021 survey highlighted the impact of the 2020 wildfires on private timberland owners in Oregon. We noted the loss of timberland could increase seedling demand by 50% in the coming years to recover the damaged lands. In compiling results of this year’s survey, many Oregon respondents highlighted the increase in planting to restore those burned acres.

As part of our annual silviculture surveys, Forisk compiles a measure of total expenditure on silvicultural treatments. The goal is to compare the cost of managing land in different geographies and over time, based exclusively on the cost put into silvicultural treatments (overhead costs are not included). The Forisk Average Silvicultural Expenditure (FASE) has been consistent over time and offers a single metric to compare differences in management intensity. To calculate the FASE, we sum the annual total expenditure on all treatments (site prep, planting, competition control, fertilization, and precommercial thinning) and divide by the total acres owned or managed. For a given geography, the consistency in the FASE is helpful in identifying anomalies in a region.

A review of the FASE over the four western surveys highlights the scale of increased cost in the 2023 survey for Oregon respondents (Figure). Annual expenditure jumped from $12 per acre to $19 per acre, up over 50%. Replanting drove costs higher as site prep expenditure doubled and seedling/planting costs rose 57%. Over the previous three surveys, Oregon owners and managers replanted around 2.1% of their acres under management each year. In 2023, they replanted 3.1%, a nearly 50% increase. Our survey covered 3.1 million privately managed acres in Oregon. The additional silviculture expenditure suggests survey participants invested $20 million more in 2022 than in a typical year to re-establishing forests lost to the 2020 wildfires.

Figure. Forisk Average Silvicultural Expenditure (FASE) in Oregon and proportion of Oregon acres replanted, 2017-2023.


For more information on our annual silviculture surveys contact Heather Clark at hsclark@forisk.com. To learn more about the Forisk Research Quarterly (FRQ), click here or call Forisk at 770.725.8447.

[1] Surveys are administered every year but alternate between the U.S. South in even years and the U.S. West in odd years.

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