Goal 2: Effects of management on carbon, fire spread, water balance and drought resilience

Goal 2 will mine the geospatial data sets and approaches created in Goal 1 to determine the effects of past and ongoing management on carbon, wildfire spread, water balance, and vegetation drought resilience. The deliverables will answer the key management questions summarized in the table below. This will take the form of reports, presentations and academic papers, and will be translated to management practitioners, decision makers, and the private sector through Goals 3 and 4.

 

 

 

Management action Conventional wisdom Evidence Key questions
Reforestation  Tree planting after a forest is disturbed (for example, by fire) Cost effective approach to sequester carbon; possible downsides are increased water use and dieback with drought  Long-term stability and full suite of benefits/costs relative to non-intervention uncertain How much does reforestation increase carbon sequestration? What are the co-benefits and co-costs of reforestation? Are reforested areas more or less susceptible to wildfire or dieback with drought? 
Afforestation Tree planting in an area that was previously unforested Cost effective carbon sequestration if the location can support forest over long term (drought, nutrient, etc); likely downsides are increased water use and dieback with drought Long-term stability and full suite of benefits/costs relative to non-intervention poorly known for California How much does afforestation increase carbon sequestration? What are the co-benefits and co-costs of reforestation? Are reforested areas more or less susceptible to wildfire or dieback with drought? 
Limit fire spread and combustion Fuel breaks; ladder and fine fuel reduction; fire management  Important co-benefits, especially for fire abatement. Carbon benefits limited by carbon cost of treatment and low probability fires hit treatments; requires frequent re-treatment Minimal evidence for life cycle carbon uptake as currently implemented; better evidence for co-benefits, including reduced fire spread  How effective are fuel breaks at reducing fire spread? What are the co-benefits of reduced fire spread? How should treatments be arrayed across the landscape to maximize carbon or other co-benefits? How often and when is re-treatment necessary? 
Forest restoration  Thinning and restoration to promote large trees; reduce canopy cover and sub-canopy; reintroduce low intensity fire Carbon benefits are limited by carbon cost of treatment and low probability fires coincide with treatments; requires frequent re-treatment; important co-benefits Uneven evidence for life cycle carbon uptake as currently implemented; more evidence for co-benefits, including fire severity, water and habitat quality How effective is forest restoration for reducing fire spread and severity? What are the co-benefits of restoration? How do the benefits and co-benefits of restoration vary with practice? How often and when is re-treatment necessary? 
Maintain or increase detrital pools Treatment of slash, coarse woody debris and soil Largely unexplored; possible benefits for carbon sequestration, habitat and water quality; possible costs for wildfires and pests Poorly developed and largely unexplored How does the treatment of slash and coarse woody debris affect carbon sequestration and other attributes? Can active management of forest soil and detritus provide net benefits?