Over the past 5 decades, stand-replacing crown fires have increased in size and frequency throughout the long-needled pine forests of the American Southwest. Suppression of frequent, low-intensity ground fires has resulted in dense stands of fire-prone trees over large areas. Efforts to restore forest structure to conditions that would permit a return to historical fire regimes, characterized by frequent ground fire, are hindered by the inability of managers and the public to compare the effects of alternative forest management practices on fire behavior and a host of other issues. Currently, forest management is mired in controversy, endangering ecosystem function, biodiversity, public safety, and municipal watersheds. Our research program, motivated by the need to examine cumulative effects of many independent management decisions over large planning areas, focuses on the development of spatial data and modeling tools that enable diverse stakeholders to work together to guide landscape-scale planning efforts. Data layers describing forest composition and structure facilitate modeling of fire threat and wildlife habitat over areas of several hundred thousand hectares. Modeling alternative forest management scenarios via a collaborative, public process fosters informed discourse and helps conflicting parties forge appropriate policy and identify management responses that meet restoration objectives.
- Forest policy
- Landscape assessment
- Public lands
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation