The CAL FIRE Forest Health Research Program supports scientific studies that provide critical information and tools to forest landowners, resource agencies, fire management organizations and policy makers across California on a variety of topics related to forest health and management.
The Research Program offers grants to eligible applicants primarily through an annual competitive proposal and selection process, as well as through discretionary awards and contracts for specific topics of interest to the Department. To date, the Research Program has funded over $7.3 million in research grants.
The following topics have been identified as priorities for study for the Research Program for FY 2020-21. Proposed research must address one or more of these priority topics. Research projects should be focused on and relevant to California ecosystems and their management.
- Disturbance, recovery, and strategies for forest resilience in an altered future climate. Includes but is not limited to: post-wildfire recovery, regeneration and reforestation strategies; improved prediction of threats such as drought and wildfire and associated impacts to forest health; climate adaptation strategies that will promote healthy, persistent forests; interactions of drought and wildfire; impacts related to invasive species.
- Implementation, effectiveness, impacts, and tradeoffs of alternative management strategies to reduce wildfire risk, increase carbon storage, improve biodiversity, improve water and air quality, and provide regional economic benefits. Includes, but is not limited to: implications of significantly increased pace and scale of prescribed fire and other forest health treatments.
- Natural, historical and contemporary range of variation in fire regimes (i.e., frequency, seasonality, size, spatial complexity, intensity, severity, and fire type), forest conditions and distributions, and wildfire-related greenhouse gas emissions in California ecosystems, particularly those less well studied. Includes, but is not limited to: historical and paleo-ecological investigations; changes in modern-era disturbance regimes; and long-term trends in forest health and resources.
- Forest products and utilization of forest residues related to fuel reduction and forest health treatments. Includes but is not limited to: emerging approaches, technologies and wood products; impacts of products and utilization on greenhouse gas emissions; and impacts on local, regional and state economies.
- Human dimensions and socio-economic considerations related to forest health and management. Includes but is not limited to: indigenous perspectives on forest health and best management practices; total cost of uncontrolled wildfire; public perceptions of wildfire risk and willingness to take or support mitigating action; identification of communities and populations vulnerable to wildfire impacts; and impacts of wildfire and prescribed fire on public health.
- Improved prediction of wildland fire spread, behavior, and potential impacts, particularly under extreme weather conditions and within the wildland-urban interface. Includes but is not limited to: improved prediction of fire weather and near-term fire danger; atmospheric coupling in wildfire models; ember generation, lofting, transport and likelihood of structure ignition.
The Research Program budget allocates grant funding to four different project types:
- Projects on CAL FIRE Demonstration State Forests;
- Projects on other forestland in California;
- Graduate student research;
- Scientific synthesis and tool development.
The Forest Health Research Program is funded through the California Climate Investments program (Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund) and managed by the Fire and Resource Assessment Program at CAL FIRE. Additional opportunities for research funding are available through other CAL FIRE programs.