Implementation constraints limit benefits of restoration treatments in mixed-conifer forestsAuthor(s): Jamie M. Lydersen; Brandon M. Collins; Carolyn T. Hunsaker
Source: International Journal of Wildland Fire. 28(7): 495-511
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
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Forest restoration treatments seek to increase resilience to wildfire and a changing climate while avoiding negative impacts to the ecosystem. The extent and intensity of treatments are often constrained by operational considerations and concerns over uncertainty in the trade-offs of addressing different management goals. The recent (2012–15) extreme drought in California, USA, resulted in widespread tree mortality, particularly in the southern Sierra Nevada, and provided an opportunity to assess the effects of restoration treatments on forest resilience to drought. We assessed changes in mixed-conifer forest structure following thinning and understorey burning at the Kings River Experimental Watersheds in the southern Sierra Nevada, and how treatments, topography and forest structure related to tree mortality in the recent drought. Treatments had negligible effect on basal area, tree density and canopy cover. Following the recent drought, average basal area mortality within the watersheds ranged from 5 to 26% across riparian areas and 12 to 44% across upland areas, with a range of 0 to 95% across all plots. Tree mortality was not significantly influenced by restoration treatments or topography. Our results suggest that the constraints common to many restoration treatments may limit their ability to mitigate the impacts of severe drought.
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CitationLydersen, Jamie M.; Collins, Brandon M.; Hunsaker, Carolyn T. 2019. Implementation constraints limit benefits of restoration treatments in mixed-conifer forests. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 28(7): 495-511. https://doi.org/10.1071/WF18141.
Keywordsbark beetles, drought, forest restoration, fuel treatments, mortality, prescribed burning, preventive management, resilience and resistance of ecosystems, Sierra Nevada, treatment effects, vegetation composition and structure
- Variable thinning and prescribed fire influence tree mortality and growth during and after a severe drought
- Synthesis of research into the long-term outlook for Sierra Nevada forests following the current bark beetle epidemic
- Topographic variation in structure of mixed-conifer forests under an active-fire regime
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