The forestry community in the Pacific Northwest has an increasing interest in its native hardwood resource. This community includes small woodland owners, forest industry and public agencies. Small woodland owners are major hardwood owners, and they could benefit from obtaining income from forest crops with shorter rotations than those usually seen with conifers. In the sawmill, veneer, and paper sides of the forest industry, the use of hardwoods, especially alder, has increased greatly in recent years. The industry is also seeking to diversify, including into hardwoods, making management of hardwood sites more important as hardwoods are substituted into markets like plywood and OSB. The costs of restrictions on chemical vegetation management practices are causing many landowners to leave a larger hardwood component in plantations. Public agencies see hardwoods as an important component in their program to maintain ecological diversity. The federal limits on herbicide use will result in a larger hardwood component on these lands.

This increase in interest in hardwoods has increased the number of questions being asked about techniques of reproduction, management, harvesting, processing and marketing. Support of hardwood silvicultural research in the Pacific Northwest is small relative to the investment made in conifer silvicultural research and to the market value of hardwoods. Researchers in both public and private agencies are conducting limited research on hardwoods, but most questions of great importance to hardwood silviculture in the region are not likely to receive adequate attention in the near future without extra effort. Personnel and resources of any one institution are inadequate for the task. Many of these problems, however, can be addressed by the combined talents and resources of both managers and researchers.

Many unaddressed questions still remain for nursery practices, regeneration, weed control, timing and density of spacing activities, growth and yield. Methodologies for this type of research are well developed, making research implementation easy.

A well-run cooperative is an efficient means of increasing and accelerating the level of hardwood silvicultural research in the region. Cooperatives are a mechanism of pooling limited resources to carry out research at a modest cost per cooperative member. A cooperative can also assure that important research problems are identified, because cooperators help choose the problems. Cooperatives also make it possible to conduct research on a broader scale and variety of lands and materials than are generally available to individual organizations. Because cooperators participate directly in research, communication of results is speeded and findings are applied more rapidly and effectively than occurs with conventional research methods. Finally, support for individual research organizations in the region has been shrinking. This cooperative can help fill the gaps in hardwood silviculture research programs being created by cutbacks in other programs.

Given these resource conditions, research needs and potential research support, this prospectus describes the structure and operation of the Hardwood Silviculture Cooperative.

Several factors make OSU uniquely qualified to be the sponsor of this cooperative. OSU has both the required expertise and willingness to assume the leadership role as well as experience with research cooperative operations. This prospectus has strong endorsement from the University Administration. Furthermore, OSU is centrally located in the Northwest's hardwood region, and strong supporting groups in botany and forestry (silviculture, ecology, physiology, economics, and forest products) are already located on campus.

Much research needs to be done. Further delay in acquiring the needed information can only lead to uninformed decisions in the future and subsequently, less revenue from hardwood management programs. Continued growth of the Cooperative will ensure that these needs are met as quickly as possible.