Resource and environmental management of fire-adapted forests

Posted: September 3rd, 2013

Resource and environmental management of fire-adapted forests









Resource and environmental management of fire-adapted forests

Forests are a natural recourse whose conservation and replenishment is essential for the sustainability of the human race. The forest resource has been constantly at the risk of extinction resulting from the uncontrolled utilization of the resource. Forests are essential for the survival of civilization since they satisfy most of humanities essential needs. Many communities derive their income, food, medicine, energy and at times entire livelihoods purely from the forests.

In addition, most of the global water catchments areas lie within global forested regions. Also, forests tend to create a balance in the delicate ecosystem. They form a basic source of the essential oxygen that supports all animal life in planet earth. This highly works in highlighting on how essential forest conservation efforts are. These mean survival for the current and future civilization and the entire life on planet earth.

The nature conservancy is one of the institutions purposed with the task of management and restoration of environmental habitats around the globe. The institution is also concerned with researching and conducting restoration and conservancy efforts of the fire-adapted forests. The fire-adapted forests in the United States of America have undergone significant changes resulting from fire suppression, uncontrolled logging, and grazing. The above activities render these forests prone to cruel fire, insect and disease events.

Activities such as mechanical thinning, prescribed fire and fuel treatment practices are some of the efforts currently aimed at restoring and conserving these essential resources. This paper researches on the essential topics that are important for consideration when creating an association between forest management and the science policy of carbon and climate change. The topics addressed by this paper for the facilitation of policy experts include:

  • The underlying associations between forest management, carbon budget and discharge;
  • The available management and investigation that the nature conservancy and other conservation institutions can put into consideration to guarantee the laid out projects attain pliability while controlling the threats created by climate change; and
  • The various factors to put into consideration when assessing external research

The underlying associations between forest management, carbon budget and discharge

The current approach for the conservation of most of the global forests has mainly evolved from a land protection model that takes into account the expansive connection between private and public property partnerships. The utilization of these partnerships that the institutions advantage conservation results that is over and above their relevant reserve networks. The professional skills availed by science and policy serve to frame conservation institutions work that is beyond their borders.  The appreciation of the scientific policy in line with the underlying global threats to forest biodiversity and incorporating partnerships in the mitigation of these threats is one of the essential threats of the conservation institutions.

In line with this, the nature conservancy develops partnerships to facilitate forest resilience in fire-adapted ecosystems. The development of resilience strategies that are in conformity with the objectives of the partners, while at the same time carrying out the conservation of biodiversity is one of the active roles of the nature conservancy. Many of the stakeholders and interest groups are mounting pressure for the treatment of forests for hazard reduction outcomes. This is also reflected through the enactment of the healthy forest restoration act of 2003 that emphasizes on this approach aimed at setting up fuel reduction projects on public lands.

Current debates concerning the effects of the current management practices in reducing carbon emissions question the reduction of carbon emission using restoration treatments. However, since the studied results pertain to mixed reactions, there is inherent difficulty in making clear conclusions regarding the role of forest treatments in the mitigation of long-term carbon emissions through the prevention of uncharacteristic forest fires.

The present fuel reduction efforts also contribute to the release of carbon to the atmosphere through some of the prescribed fire and pile burning techniques. Additional measures such as disturbance of soil and the charring of the forest floor during thinning activities, ferrying and dispensation thinned trees, decomposition and blazing logging slash and additional biomass.

To facilitate the differentiation of the present studies and results it is highly recommended that that there is a review and appreciation of the capacity and purpose of the study provided. In essence, study designs that take into account various sources of emissions and sink factors that are brought about by the treatments are more useful in providing information the enactment of policy considering the role of the treatment of forests in the effort of minimizing carbon emissions. This raises the need for the consideration of more factors that account for the entire life cycle of carbon. This will facilitate the reduction the present uncertainty concerning the results of forest management efforts in bringing about a reduction in carbon emissions.

The analysis of the present researches highlights on the need of analyzing the carbon beyond the project location.

The available management and investigation that the nature conservancy and other conservation institutions can put into consideration to guarantee the laid out projects attain pliability while controlling the threats created by climate change;

The role of resilience treatments

The global increase on carbon markets is facilitating the treatment proposals that are aimed at the setting of carbon-offset payments. This serves to creating change in the management of storing excess carbon or minimizing the risk of dangerous fires and additional loss of carbon retention. In the analysis of the underlying treatment designs, the conservation institutions including the nature conservancy and their extensive scope of practitioners that take interest in forest pliability need to recognize one important aspect.

The activity of thinning as a sole conservative technique fails in effectively acting as a fuel treatment. To enhance effectiveness there is the need to put into consideration the combination with treatment of surface fuels undertaken through approved blazing, pile blazing or the use of wild land fire. When fire is not available, various stands that burned regularly with open structures have now transformed into dense vegetation with continuous canopies. This aspect renders them susceptible to crown fire. The latter is regarded as one of the fundamental cause of high intensity conflagrations that tend to beleaguer the western frontier of the United States of America.

Effects of climate change on forests

One of the most effective means of buffering ecosystems against the damaging effects of future climates is through the amplification of their resilience. Fire is a fundamental process on the formation of the historical landscape. The climate change affects various fire regimes through the increase in length of the normal fire season, increase in severity and continual droughts, an increase in the number and frequency of lightning ignitions and augmentation in the quantity of fuel and fuel continuity.

With this respect, there is therefore the need for the nature conservancy and other environmental organizations to set the land in preparation of the underlying changes to result in minimal effects to the biota. This will highly work in the anticipation of additional all-embracing and uncontrollable fires in the future. The presence of fire exclusions for quite a considerable amount of time with forecasted climate change may work in the promotion of fires in the future that could end up severely changing the structure of the landscape in addition to its composition and function. These effects may continue to the point where there is an exhaustion of the available carbon stores.

The types of restoration treatments that can be put into consideration by the various conservation organizations must put into account the fact that there will be a considerable change in fire regimes. This will result in making various efforts and techniques aimed at fuel treatment ineffective. There will therefore be an impediment to the design of restoration treatments during the motion of the fire regimes and the subsequent preferred stand conditions since they are rendered a target in motion.

In addition, most effective fuel treatment techniques take different forms depending on the type of the forest and the underlying spatial context. No treatment method that is effective on all the various types of forests exists. The conservation institutions ought to comprehend the processes involved in the occurrence of the shifts. These interested parties are then to assign preferred forecasted conditions that then develop and closely control and monitor the restoration treatments that will result in the reduction of the damaging effects of high-severity fire.

The same institutions are to make certain that post-fire landscapes depict ecologically viable patterns and composition. Various landscape-scale projects incorporate the methodology of the nature conservancy conservation action planning in the association of the phenomena of altering fire regimes with the goals and objectives of the treatment procedure. This adoption works in highly enabling the development and evaluation of forest restoration treatments that optimally enable mangers to put into action, control and adapt through the utilization of a long-term plan purposed for the health and resilience of the ecosystem.

The various factors to put into consideration when assessing external research

When analyzing past research on how the process of thinning affects carbon stocks and wildfire emissions, there develops an importance for the evaluation of the underlying types and intensities resulting from harvesting practices that are realized by the study design. If the study is purely a modeling exercise that involves the use of numerical reductions in forest canopy, the study may end up failing in indicating the realistic image of thinning being practiced in the field aimed at reinstituting the health of the forest.

At the same time, resilience thinning may fail in working as a stand management procedure for carbon. The thinning prescriptions ought to reflect the acceptable dynamic processes such as the aspect of natural patch establishment, prevalent disease outbreaks and pest attacks and characteristic fire. These are not to be characterized by simply setting up numeric associations of the biomass reduction. The above could lead to a failure in capturing the realistic aspects and adverse effects of the resilience-based practices.

Only minimal documented cases exist that indicate the ability of pairing of the simulations with the realistic implementation of projects. This is specifically when it entails the tracking of the carbon stores before and after fire. These take into account the sources of the fire emissions and the black carbon. The dead sinks are also included in the studies. On the other hand a wide range of literature regarding the effects of fire and decay rates. However, it is only until recently that the controlled and empirical studies made considerable impact on the scientific community.

One such research is that of the Fire and Fire Surrogate Study. Others include the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project and the Teakettle Experimental Forest. The above studies tend to bring about three substantial benefits to the scientific community. One is the ability to indicate comparison of the various silvicultural methods that aim to alleviate fire hazard in common forest types that have been characterized by recurrent low to average fire regimes in terms of intensity, in the past. Secondly, the studies are able to indicate a comparison of the underlying costs and linked benefits that are associated with fuel treatment procedures. Thirdly, these studies facilitate the comparison of models between the ground treatments and the practical measurements on the field.

One research approach that is relied upon by the scientific community is the utilization of life cycle assessment approaches that put into consideration the underlying carbon stores and related benefits that result from fuel treatment. One disadvantage inherent to the methodology of the life cycle assessment technique is they end up being too time intensive. This methodology has an inherent value since it takes into account the fuel treatment products from the time they are initiated into the field to the time their effects seem to diminish completely.

The adoption of a life cycle approach for comparing fuel treatments and the underlying benefits realized by the approach raises the need for clarity of the domain boundaries form the onset of the research. This is because forests act as systems that give feedback that tend to highly influence carbon responses to actions. It is therefore imperative to define clearly the limitations of the controls evidenced by a realistic carbon project. A project that takes into account a life cycle approach ought to indicate definitive boundaries in terms of space and time. It is also imperative to determine whether the life cycle lies in line to the standards set by the International Standards Organization (ISO).



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