Challenges and opportunities in forest restoration outreach: The example of southwestern ponderosa pine forests

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The majority of forest managers, informed policymakers, and educated members of the public agree that restoration of dry, fire-adapted forests of western North America is a critical ecological and social need. A large body of scientific research documents how forests that were once open and parklike have grown dense with small trees, resulting in significant increases in fire hazards and declines in ecological values. It has been difficult, though, to convert even detailed scientific understanding into effective results on the ground. Reasons include numerous economic and social hurdles, but also difficulties in translating research results into tactics applicable in the field. Ecologists often require many years before they are willing to identify causal relationships between specific restoration treatments and identifiable ecological results. Managers often demand immediate answers to ecological questions so that they can make pressing real-time decisions. Policymakers and the public are often unwilling to wait for peer-reviewed scientific results and want to know quickly whether economic, political, and social investments in restoration work are warranted. This paper uses the example of the Ecological Restoration Institute's (ERI) outreach program to assess the difficulties and opportunities inherent in translating science into action. The ERI maintains a broad effort aimed at publicizing timely yet scientifically rigorous information about the restoration of Southwestern ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws.) forests. Through an ever-evolving combination of print and electronic publications, public outreach activities, and land manager workshops, we attempt to keep varied audiences abreast of the latest developments in the science and application of restoration work. This paper outlines a broad restoration outreach strategy and discusses challenges encountered as those working to improve the health of public-lands forests continue to expand the audience for their work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-82
Number of pages10
JournalUSDA Forest Service - General Technical Report PNW-GTR
Issue number726
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007

Keywords

  • Forest restoration
  • Outreach
  • Ponderosa pine
  • Southwestern United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science

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