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Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Fire-Caused Changes in Forest Vegetation in California

September 28, 2020

The Southwest CASC and partners documented vegetation type conversion (VTC) in the Southwest U.S. to improve knowledge on fire and forest-related management decisions in the region.

Fire consuming trees in the Southwestern U.S.
Fire consuming trees in the Southwestern U.S. Credit: Rachel Loehman, USGS.

Read the original announcement posted by the Southwest CASC, here.

In many landscapes across the Southwestern U.S., fire size, frequency, area burned, and severity are growing. These changes are causing large areas of forest to experience vegetation type conversions (VTC), where once-dominant coniferous forests fail to return to their pre-fire state, often transitioning to shrub- or grass-dominated ecosystems. The loss of these forests has major negative impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and culturally-valued resources, however, there is currently little known on the scale and impact of VTC in this region.

In December 2019, the Southwest CASC and partners from the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Arizona, and EcoAdapt held the second in a series of  a workshops for researchers and scientists to document the known cases of VTCs in the Southwest and to identify to what degree forests have converted. Researchers at the workshop identified the underlying systems that lead to VTC, as well as determining what factors promote fire resilience. A summary of the workshop findings and planned outputs are now available online.

This workshop is a part of the Southwest CASC project Understanding Fire-caused Vegetation Type Conversion in Southwestern Conifer Forests under Current and Future Climate Conditions.

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