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Forest restoration and fuels reduction: Convergent or divergent?

December 2, 2020

For over 20 years, forest fuel reduction has been the dominant management action in western US forests. These same actions have also been associated with the restoration of highly altered frequent-fire forests. Perhaps the vital element in the compatibility of these treatments is that both need to incorporate the salient characteristics that frequent fire produced—variability in vegetation structure and composition across landscapes and the inability to support large patches of high-severity fire. These characteristics can be achieved with both fire and mechanical treatments. The possible key to convergence of fuel reduction and forest restoration strategies is integrated planning that permits treatment design flexibility and a longer-term focus on fire reintroduction for maintenance. With changing climate conditions, long-term forest conservation will probably need to be focused on keeping tree density low enough (i.e., in the lower range of historic variation) for forest conditions to adapt to emerging disturbance patterns and novel ecological processes.

Publication Year 2021
Title Forest restoration and fuels reduction: Convergent or divergent?
DOI 10.1093/biosci/biaa134
Authors Scott L. Stephens, Mike A. Battaglia, Derek J. Churchill, Brandon M. Collins, Michelle Coppoletta, Chad M. Hoffman, Jamie M. Lydersen, Malcolm P. North, Russell A. Parsons, Scott M. Ritter, Jens Stevens
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title BioScience
Index ID 70217225
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center