Addressing common misconceptions about dry forest restoration and fuel treatments
Principal Investigator: Susan Prichard, Ph.D.
Project Partners: Van Kane, Ph.D. and Keala Hagmann, Ph.D.
Institution: University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
Project Type: Science Synthesis and Tool Development
Grant Award #8GG19800
Amount awarded: $54,369
Award Date: September 2019
The goal of this set of papers was to review the scientific evidence regarding climate change adaptation strategies in fire-prone forests. We conducted an extensive literature review to address questions regarding the justification and efficacy of fuel reduction treatments and landscape restoration of the interior western US. Our intention for the three papers was to provide an overview of the topic that is accessible to a broad audience and evaluates the strength of evidence on the topic of ecological departures and dry forest restoration and adaptive management strategies.
Through this synthesis project, we invited 40 scientists from around western North America to participate. The three papers were published in an Invited Feature of Ecological Applications. They include:
1) Wildfire and climate change adaptation of western North American forests: a case for intentional management
This first paper was intended to provide an overview of the topic of climate change adaptation strategies in fire-prone western forests, and the strength of evidence in the scientific literature.
2) Evidence for widespread changes in the structure, composition, and fire regimes of western North American forests
In this paper, we reviewed over a century of documentation of changes to forest conditions following fire exclusion associated with changes in fire use, grazing, logging, and fire suppression. The review addresses key misrepresentations of the science and summarize existing rebuttals to claims that departures are overstated. Our goal was to provide a concise review supported by supplementary appendices that provide a systematic review of the literature and summarize the often confusing set of rebuttals on the topic of ecological departures. Currently, the scientific community, land managers and policy makers are overwhelmed by apparent disagreement in the scientific literature. Having a central source that summarizes the science and evaluates the strength of evidence for each premise will provide clarification of what is known and what questions require further study. Land managers are increasingly confronted by the counter evidence during public comment periods of proposed restoration projects and have been asking for a reliable review of this topic.
3) Adapting western North American forests to climate change and wildfires: 10 common questions
Following demonstration of the strength of evidence of ecological departures, this paper reviews the efficacy of forest restoration to adapt western US forests to climate change and mitigate wildfire severity as documented in empirical studies. Additionally, we reviewed the ecological benefits of forest restoration and research needs.
Our objective wass to address common misconceptions about the science of forest restoration using definitive sources from the primary literature.
Hessburg, P. F., Prichard, S. J., Hagmann, R. K., Povak, N. A., & Lake, F. K. (2021). Wildfire and climate change adaptation of western North American forests: a case for intentional management. Ecological applications, 31(8), e02432.
Hagmann, R. K., Hessburg, P. F., Prichard, S. J., Povak, N. A., Brown, P. M., Fulé, P. Z., ... & Waltz, A. E. M. (2021). Evidence for widespread changes in the structure, composition, and fire regimes of western North American forests. Ecological Applications. 31 (8): 24-., 31(8), 1-34.
Prichard, S. J., Hessburg, P. F., Hagmann, R. K., Povak, N. A., Dobrowski, S. Z., Hurteau, M. D., ... & Kolden, C. A. (2021). Adapting western North American forests to climate change and wildfires: 10 common questions. Ecol. Appl, 31(8).
For more information on this project please visit:
Prichard Lab website: https://depts.washington.edu/flame/
Story map of 10 common questions: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/64f55848f690452da6c58e5a888ff283
Susan Prichard, Ph.D. (PI): firstname.lastname@example.org
UW SEFS Box 352100
Seattle, WA 98195-2100