This month in ecological science, researchers evaluate the U.S. National Fire Plan to restore western U.S. forests, fire's key role in the return of a native lizard to the Ozarks and what historical fire records and sediment cores can tell us about the Arctic Tundra's fire regime. These articles are available online or published in recent issues of the Ecological Society of America's (ESA) journals.
Taking stock of U.S. strategies to restore forests in the West
A study published in the June issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment is the first to analyze recent federal strategies to restore forests on western U.S. forestlands. Tania Schoennagel of the University of Colorado-Boulder and Cara Nelson of the University of Montana evaluated treatments implemented under the U.S. National Fire Plan (NFP); activities included removing trees, shrubs, grasses and litter with the goal of either protecting communities from wildfires or restoring open forests and low-severity fire. They found that 43 percent of forest area treated away from communities fell within forest types predicted to have a clear restoration need. For example, almost one-quarter of the total area treated was concentrated in ponderosa pine woodlandsthe archetypal forest for restoration. Most of the area treated in Arizona, New Mexico, California and Arizona was in forest types predicted to have high restoration need. However, 14 percent of treated areas occurred in locations where the restoration need was predicted to be low, while 43 percent of treated areas occurred where restoration need was predicted to be either variable or unknown. As other researchers have noted, restoration is needed in areas such as ponderosa pine-dominated forests where past grazing and fire suppression has increased tree density and raised the risk of uncharacteristic high-severity fires. But forest types that are naturally dense and in which high-severity fires are the norm, fuel res
|Contact: Nadine Lymn|
Ecological Society of America