Real versus perceived conflicts between restoration of ponderosa pine forests and conservation of the Mexican spotted owl

John W. Prather, Reed F. Noss, Thomas D Sisk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Progress in implementing ecosystem approaches to conservation and restoration is slowed by legitimate concerns about the effects of such approaches on individual imperiled species. The perceived conflict between the restoration of fire-excluded forests and concomitant reduction of dense fuels and high-severity wildfire, versus the recovery of endangered species, has led to a policy ambiguity that has slowed on-the-ground action at a time when active management is urgently needed, both for ecosystem restoration and species conservation. The Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) in the southwestern U.S.A. is emblematic of this perceived conflict, with numerous appeals and lawsuits focused on the species and vast acres of forest managed with habitat quality for this species in mind. We use spatial analysis across large landscapes in Arizona to examine potential conflicts between the desire to reduce the likelihood of uncharacteristically severe wildfire and restore native fire regimes, and the concurrent desire and legal mandate to manage forests for the recovery of the owl. Our spatially explicit analysis indicates that real conflicts between these management objectives exist, but that locations where conflicts might inhibit active forest management represent less than 1/3 of the 811,000 ha study region. Furthermore, within the areas where conflicts might be expected, the majority of the forest could be managed in ways that would reduce fire hazard without eliminating owl habitat. Finally, management treatments that emphasize ecosystem restoration might improve the suitability of large areas of forest habitat in the southwest that is currently unsuitable for owls. These results demonstrate that even where policy conflicts exist, their magnitude has been overstated. Active restoration of dry forests from which fire has been excluded is compatible in many areas with conservation and recovery of the owl. Identifying and prioritizing areas to meet the dual goals of ecosystem restoration and imperiled species conservation require a broad spatial approach that is analytically feasible but currently underutilized. Working together, conservation biologists, restoration ecologists, and forest managers can employ landscape-level spatial analysis to identify appropriate areas for management attention, identify suitable management practices, and explore the predicted consequences of alternative management scenarios on forests, fire ecology, and the fate of sensitive species of conservation concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-150
Number of pages11
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Fingerprint

Pinus ponderosa
restoration
coniferous forests
Strigiformes
conservation
ecological restoration
forest fires
wildfires
management
species conservation
fire ecology
habitat
forest fire
wildfire
spatial analysis
fuels (fire ecology)
fire hazard
ecosystem
fire regime
forest habitats

Keywords

  • Environmental policy
  • Forest management
  • Imperiled species
  • Restoration ecology
  • Spatial analysis
  • Strix occidentalis lucida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Real versus perceived conflicts between restoration of ponderosa pine forests and conservation of the Mexican spotted owl. / Prather, John W.; Noss, Reed F.; Sisk, Thomas D.

In: Forest Policy and Economics, Vol. 10, No. 3, 01.2008, p. 140-150.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{9f389dfb96354325bb3ccf4ce9b018ca,
title = "Real versus perceived conflicts between restoration of ponderosa pine forests and conservation of the Mexican spotted owl",
abstract = "Progress in implementing ecosystem approaches to conservation and restoration is slowed by legitimate concerns about the effects of such approaches on individual imperiled species. The perceived conflict between the restoration of fire-excluded forests and concomitant reduction of dense fuels and high-severity wildfire, versus the recovery of endangered species, has led to a policy ambiguity that has slowed on-the-ground action at a time when active management is urgently needed, both for ecosystem restoration and species conservation. The Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) in the southwestern U.S.A. is emblematic of this perceived conflict, with numerous appeals and lawsuits focused on the species and vast acres of forest managed with habitat quality for this species in mind. We use spatial analysis across large landscapes in Arizona to examine potential conflicts between the desire to reduce the likelihood of uncharacteristically severe wildfire and restore native fire regimes, and the concurrent desire and legal mandate to manage forests for the recovery of the owl. Our spatially explicit analysis indicates that real conflicts between these management objectives exist, but that locations where conflicts might inhibit active forest management represent less than 1/3 of the 811,000 ha study region. Furthermore, within the areas where conflicts might be expected, the majority of the forest could be managed in ways that would reduce fire hazard without eliminating owl habitat. Finally, management treatments that emphasize ecosystem restoration might improve the suitability of large areas of forest habitat in the southwest that is currently unsuitable for owls. These results demonstrate that even where policy conflicts exist, their magnitude has been overstated. Active restoration of dry forests from which fire has been excluded is compatible in many areas with conservation and recovery of the owl. Identifying and prioritizing areas to meet the dual goals of ecosystem restoration and imperiled species conservation require a broad spatial approach that is analytically feasible but currently underutilized. Working together, conservation biologists, restoration ecologists, and forest managers can employ landscape-level spatial analysis to identify appropriate areas for management attention, identify suitable management practices, and explore the predicted consequences of alternative management scenarios on forests, fire ecology, and the fate of sensitive species of conservation concern.",
keywords = "Environmental policy, Forest management, Imperiled species, Restoration ecology, Spatial analysis, Strix occidentalis lucida",
author = "Prather, {John W.} and Noss, {Reed F.} and Sisk, {Thomas D}",
year = "2008",
month = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.forpol.2007.07.003",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "10",
pages = "140--150",
journal = "Forest Policy and Economics",
issn = "1389-9341",
publisher = "Elsevier",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Real versus perceived conflicts between restoration of ponderosa pine forests and conservation of the Mexican spotted owl

AU - Prather, John W.

AU - Noss, Reed F.

AU - Sisk, Thomas D

PY - 2008/1

Y1 - 2008/1

N2 - Progress in implementing ecosystem approaches to conservation and restoration is slowed by legitimate concerns about the effects of such approaches on individual imperiled species. The perceived conflict between the restoration of fire-excluded forests and concomitant reduction of dense fuels and high-severity wildfire, versus the recovery of endangered species, has led to a policy ambiguity that has slowed on-the-ground action at a time when active management is urgently needed, both for ecosystem restoration and species conservation. The Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) in the southwestern U.S.A. is emblematic of this perceived conflict, with numerous appeals and lawsuits focused on the species and vast acres of forest managed with habitat quality for this species in mind. We use spatial analysis across large landscapes in Arizona to examine potential conflicts between the desire to reduce the likelihood of uncharacteristically severe wildfire and restore native fire regimes, and the concurrent desire and legal mandate to manage forests for the recovery of the owl. Our spatially explicit analysis indicates that real conflicts between these management objectives exist, but that locations where conflicts might inhibit active forest management represent less than 1/3 of the 811,000 ha study region. Furthermore, within the areas where conflicts might be expected, the majority of the forest could be managed in ways that would reduce fire hazard without eliminating owl habitat. Finally, management treatments that emphasize ecosystem restoration might improve the suitability of large areas of forest habitat in the southwest that is currently unsuitable for owls. These results demonstrate that even where policy conflicts exist, their magnitude has been overstated. Active restoration of dry forests from which fire has been excluded is compatible in many areas with conservation and recovery of the owl. Identifying and prioritizing areas to meet the dual goals of ecosystem restoration and imperiled species conservation require a broad spatial approach that is analytically feasible but currently underutilized. Working together, conservation biologists, restoration ecologists, and forest managers can employ landscape-level spatial analysis to identify appropriate areas for management attention, identify suitable management practices, and explore the predicted consequences of alternative management scenarios on forests, fire ecology, and the fate of sensitive species of conservation concern.

AB - Progress in implementing ecosystem approaches to conservation and restoration is slowed by legitimate concerns about the effects of such approaches on individual imperiled species. The perceived conflict between the restoration of fire-excluded forests and concomitant reduction of dense fuels and high-severity wildfire, versus the recovery of endangered species, has led to a policy ambiguity that has slowed on-the-ground action at a time when active management is urgently needed, both for ecosystem restoration and species conservation. The Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) in the southwestern U.S.A. is emblematic of this perceived conflict, with numerous appeals and lawsuits focused on the species and vast acres of forest managed with habitat quality for this species in mind. We use spatial analysis across large landscapes in Arizona to examine potential conflicts between the desire to reduce the likelihood of uncharacteristically severe wildfire and restore native fire regimes, and the concurrent desire and legal mandate to manage forests for the recovery of the owl. Our spatially explicit analysis indicates that real conflicts between these management objectives exist, but that locations where conflicts might inhibit active forest management represent less than 1/3 of the 811,000 ha study region. Furthermore, within the areas where conflicts might be expected, the majority of the forest could be managed in ways that would reduce fire hazard without eliminating owl habitat. Finally, management treatments that emphasize ecosystem restoration might improve the suitability of large areas of forest habitat in the southwest that is currently unsuitable for owls. These results demonstrate that even where policy conflicts exist, their magnitude has been overstated. Active restoration of dry forests from which fire has been excluded is compatible in many areas with conservation and recovery of the owl. Identifying and prioritizing areas to meet the dual goals of ecosystem restoration and imperiled species conservation require a broad spatial approach that is analytically feasible but currently underutilized. Working together, conservation biologists, restoration ecologists, and forest managers can employ landscape-level spatial analysis to identify appropriate areas for management attention, identify suitable management practices, and explore the predicted consequences of alternative management scenarios on forests, fire ecology, and the fate of sensitive species of conservation concern.

KW - Environmental policy

KW - Forest management

KW - Imperiled species

KW - Restoration ecology

KW - Spatial analysis

KW - Strix occidentalis lucida

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=37249074447&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=37249074447&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.forpol.2007.07.003

DO - 10.1016/j.forpol.2007.07.003

M3 - Article

VL - 10

SP - 140

EP - 150

JO - Forest Policy and Economics

JF - Forest Policy and Economics

SN - 1389-9341

IS - 3

ER -