Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 14, pp 3607–3613 | Cite as

Lessons in policy implementation from experiences with the Northwest Forest Plan, USA

  • Jerry F. Franklin
  • K. Norman Johnson


Approximately 20 years ago, the preeminent goal for management of the federal forests of the Pacific Northwest shifted suddenly and permanently from sustained timber harvest to conservation of biodiversity and ecological processes, following a series of court cases over protection of species in decline that were associated with old forests. While old growth harvest has largely ceased, some key species are still in decline and forest management has been restricted more than intended. Creation of openings, even those based on disturbance processes, has been especially difficult. Some lessons from this experience include the difficulty of adaptive management, the importance of ecological foundations for management, and the need for stakeholder collaboration. In addition, it is essential to provide society with a vision of ecologically-based forestry, including field demonstrations, and to communicate this approach and its scientific foundation in the popular media.


Federal forests Ecological forestry Collaboration Public acceptance 


  1. Bliss J (2000) Public perceptions of clearcutting. J For 98(12):4–9Google Scholar
  2. Franklin JF, Johnson KN (2012) A restoration framework for federal forests in the Pacific Northwest. J For 110(8):429–439Google Scholar
  3. Franklin JF, Johnson KN (2013) Ecologically-based management: a future for federal forestry in the Pacific Northwest. J For 111(6):429–432Google Scholar
  4. Franklin JF, Mitchell RJ, Palik BJ (2007) Natural disturbance and stand development principles for ecological forestry. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report NRS-19, 44 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Gustafsson L, Baker SC et al (2012) Retention forestry to maintain multifunctional forests: a world perspective. Bioscience 62(7):633–645CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Lindenmayer DB, Franklin JF et al (2012) A major shift to the retention approach for forestry can help resolve some global forest sustainability issues. Conserv Lett. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2012.00257.x Google Scholar
  7. Mori A, Kitagawa R (2014) Retention forestry as a major paradigm for safeguarding forest biodiversity in productive landscapes: a global meta-analysis. Biol Conserv 175:65–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Shindler B, Mallon A (2009) Public acceptance of disturbance-based forest management—a study of the Blue River landscape strategy in the Central Cascades Adaptive Management Area. USDA Forest Service Research Paper PNW-RP-581Google Scholar
  9. Swanson M, Franklin JF, Beschta RL, Crisafulli CM, DellaSala DA, Hutto RL, Lindenmayer DB, Swanson FJ (2011) The forgotten stage of forest succession: early successional ecosystems on forest sites. Front Ecol Environ 9:117–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Thomas JW, Franklin JF, Gordon J, Johnson KN (2006) The Northwest Forest Plan: origins, components, implementation experience, and suggestions for change. Conserv Biol 20:277–287PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. USDA Forest Service (2014) Collaborative landscape restoration program. Accessed 6 Jan 14
  12. USDI Fish and Wildlife Service (2011) Revised recovery plan for the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). Portland, OR, 258 ppGoogle Scholar
  13. USDI Fish and Wildlife Service (2012) Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; revised critical habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl. Fed Reg 77(46):14062–14165Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Oregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

Personalised recommendations