SUMMARY OF 10-26-15 FFCC PRESENTATION/DISCUSSION ABOUT RESPONDING TO WILDFIRES FROM AN ECOLOGICAL AND CARBON PERSPECTIVE
On October 26, 2015, the FFCC held a presentation/discussion with three noted scientists focused on how to respond to wildfires from an ecological and carbon perspective. Over 125 people registered for the event, including FFCC members as well as many federal, state, and federal agency personnel and government agencies from Canada as well. Our records show that about 100 people actually participated. Below is a summary of the event that was sent to everyone who signed up after the event ended.
Thanks to the over 100 people who participated in today's FFCC presentation and discussion on Responding to Wildfires from an Ecological and Carbon Perspective. A special thanks goes to our three presenters, Dr. Bev Law, Dr. Matthew Hurteau, and Dr. Malcolm North. Slides from each of the presentations are posted at the bottom of the Webinars page. This page can be accessed via the Webinars the tab at the top of this page.
Many Areas of Consensus Exist: Although differences exist, the three scientists indicated that scientific consensus exists on many issues. In specific, we understood all three presenters to generally support these points:
· Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach, it is vital to respond to fires in ways that are explicitly aimed at enhancing the ecological function and resilience of forests. Enhancing ecological function and resilience will be vital to prepare forests for hotter temperatures and the likelihood of drier conditions.
· Forest managers should tailor fire-management actions to the on-site conditions. All actions should be evaluated to determine their effects on resilience and to enable continual learning and improvement.
· Fire is natural and essential for forest health and resilience and reintroducing fire will be critical to a more ecologically sound approach that enhances forest resilience: this includes letting fires burn in some locations, and introducing controlled burns where possible.
· Landscape level thinning is not technically possible in many locations, and will undermine ecological health, release more carbon, and in many cases likely undermine future forest carbon sequestration as well.
· Instead, agencies and communities should identify high-priority areas where fuel loads need to be reduced, and in these areas carefully controlled, ecologically beneficial fire generally should be used as the first treatment of choice. Where that is not possible, carefully planned and implemented thinning is needed--knowing that thinning will reduce carbon in the near and mid term but might in some cases/ locations increase it over the long term.
· Efforts to reduce fuel in areas with high-density fuel loads should be implemented so they do not yield homogeneous conditions across landscapes. Doing so will extend the challenges that result from management actions that do not work in harmony with natural processes.
· Anticipated changes in climate will alter the mix of species and biomes.
· Post-fire salvage has little or no ecological benefits and often undermines forest health and resilience. Post-fire actions generally should aim to not interfere with natural recovery. Where there exists a high risk of soil erosion in burned areas, reasonable actions to re-establish new trees may be warranted.
Note that the presenters did not explicitly address questions about how to implement these principles given the social and political pressures, budgetary constraints, and organizational inertia that must be addressed. However, implementation is the job of others.
Next Steps: The areas of scientific agreement suggests that a sound basis exists for the identification of practices, regulations, and policies to respond to wildfires in ways that are more economically, socially, and ecologically effective. The Federal Forest Carbon Coalition plans to follow up on today's event by investigating ways to develop and implement more effective practices, policies, and procedures. Please let us know if you are interested in participating or supporting this work.
The Federal Forest Carbon Coalition (FFCC) is a
broad-based national coalition that encourages federal forest management agencies to manage forests in ways that protect the Earth’s climate. Our focus includes minimizing the release of greenhouse gas emissions, optimizing carbon sequestration, and generating co-benefits for biodiversity, watersheds, nutrient cycling, and humans now and in the future, in just and equitable ways.
The Federal Forest Carbon Coalition (FFCC) is a broad-based national coalition that encourages federal forest management agencies to manage forests in ways that protect the Earth’s climate. Our focus includes minim izing the release of greenhouse gas emissions, optimizing carbon sequestration, and generating co-benefits for biodiversity, watersheds, nutrient cycling, and humans hnow and in the future, in just and equitable ways.
Forest management practices that minimize climate impacts will help reduce the impacts of climate disruption in the U.S. and abroad. They will also help conserve critical ecosystems and habitats and reduce the impacts of climate disruption on forests, biodiversity, watersheds, and communities locally and around the world. Managing forests in ways that help regulate the climate is thus a deeply moral obligation as well as an economic and environmental responsibility for our nation.
What Organizations Are Involved with the Federal Forest Carbon Coalition?
FFCC members include organizations and individuals concerned about the links between climate disruption and the health of forests, biodiversity, watersheds, as well as the well-being of people and communities in the U.S. and globally, now and in the future.
The members include: