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Implementation constraints limit benefits of restoration treatments in mixed-conifer forests

Year:

2019

Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Source:

International Journal of Wildland Fire. 28(7): 495-511

Description

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.

Citation

Lydersen, 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.

Cited

Publication Notes

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/58553