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Ecological Restoration Using an All Lands Approach. Leadership Intent for Ecological Restoration Sierra Cascade Dialog Group November 4, 2010.

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Ecological RestorationUsing an All Lands Approach

Leadership Intent for

Ecological Restoration

Sierra Cascade Dialog Group

November 4, 2010

Forest Service Mission: to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

In this century, our forests and grasslands face serious threats to their sustainability from a variety of stresses and pressures affecting aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. These stressors include:

climate change

unnatural large scale disturbance regimes

non-native invasive species

increasing pressures and impacts from an expanding human population.

Rising temperatures are leading to hotter

summers, earlier snowmelt, declining snow

packs, water shortages, and worsening wildfires

and outbreaks of forest pests and diseases.

Fire seasons are coming earlier and ending later.

Landscapes will change as plants and animals migrate in response.

Warming winters are allowing some insect populations to survive, creating larger and longer epidemics, killing more trees and increasing fire risk.

Large Scale Disturbance - Wildfire

The 7-year average annual number of acres burned into a deforested condition is 23,943 and the 5-year average of all acres planted is 8,600.

Overly Dense Forests

Stand Structure & Species Composition

Changes over 20th Century

Increased moisture and warmth, combined with increased carbon dioxide (CO2) stimulate tree growth. Under climate change, many ecosystems will experience widespread mortality. Though dense forests store large amounts of carbon, once overgrown, they are vulnerable to large fires and insect attack and when trees burn or die, carbon is returned to the atmosphere.

Original Stand Structure

Fire exclusion has helped lead to increasing stand density.

Photos Courtesy of Carl Skinner

Large Scale Disturbance - Insect and Disease.- In California, Western Pine Beetle mortality – 3 fold increase from 2008 to 2009 (365,000

California Population

By 2025, California’s population will increase from 37 million in 2005 to 44 - 48 million people.

Inland populations will grow:

48% in inland counties

17% in coastal counties.

Fastest growth rates will be in the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties), the San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento Metropolitan area.

From Public Policy Institute of California

East Fork of the San Gabriel River, Angeles National Forest

A growing understanding of the value of the ecosystem services that healthy, resilient forests and wildlands provide

California Water

Over 50% of all surface water used originates on California’s National Forests

A growing understanding of the value of Biodiversity

The ecosystem services that healthy, resilient forests provide:

  • Delivery of clean water

  • Fish wildlife and plant habitat

  • Mitigate droughts and floods

  • Wood products, biomass energy

  • Green economic activity

  • Scientific discovery

  • Rural economic health

  • Biodiversity

  • Carbon sequestration

  • Air quality

  • Cultural, intellectual and spiritual inspiration

  • Outdoor recreation

  • Scenic beauty

  • Landscapes for health and renewal

Current vegetation treatments treat slightly less than 0.5% of the 20.2 million acres of Nation Forest Lands in California.

Business as Usual:Will not get us where we need to be.

While sound restoration work is being conducted and vegetation is currently being treated to increase forest resiliency, research shows that disturbance impacts will outpace the benefits of these treatments in the next few decades.

By 2050, the ability of national forests to sequester carbon and deliver ecosystem services will start to collapse, resulting in the loss of ecosystem services, loss of meadow function, loss of carbon storage and loss of forest resiliency in the face of climate change.

The scale of work is not adequate to influence the trend of growing impacts to wildlands due to wildfire.

There is a strong need to incorporate new science and managerial and technical innovations in planning and decisions.

Region 5 Ecological Restoration, Leadership Intent, 2010

Leadership Intent

A Call to Action – A Clarity of Purpose

Increased understanding of threats and patterns; large scale disturbances, climate change, carbon sequestration, invasive species , insect and disease

The loss of forest health , resilience and biodiversity and how this effects the forest’s ability to adapt and thrive in the face of climate change and disturbance

Recognition of the potential loss of delivery of ecosystem services

Knowledge that although we were doing good restoration work it was not enough

“Ecological Restoration is an intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity and sustainability.”

Society for Ecological Restoration

Leadership Intent

The Regional Leadership Intent for Ecological Restoration sets 20 year goals to:

retain and reestablish ecological resilience of the land, and

to provide a broad range of ecosystem services.


Region 5 Ecological Restoration, Leadership Intent, 2010

Region 5 Focus - Ecological Restoration

Work we do that affects the ecosystem will be driven by and consistent with restoration needs.

Our goal is to pick up the pace and scale of restoration work.

We are exploring new ways to accomplish restoration work including large scale conservation actions across ownership boundaries.

Region 5 Ecological Restoration, Leadership Intent, 2010

How do we get to where we need to be?

The Challenge

Reverse the trend.

Significantly increase the pace and scale of restoration work (to about 500,000 acres a year)

Align forest work and integrate ecological restoration activities in water, wildlife, recreation, vegetation management and wildland fire

Region 5 Ecological Restoration, Leadership Intent, 2010

The Approach

  • Recognize current budgets are not enough to

    achieve desired increased pace and scale.

  • Build on existing partnerships and seek new ones to support

    ecological restoration priorities.

  • Explore ways to increase our investment in restoration work by increasing benefits citizens receive from national forests: improved delivery of clean water, recreation, biodiversity, wood, etc.

  • Utilize an “all lands” approach by working with partners to accomplish work across ownership boundaries for large scale restoration projects.

We look forward to working with citizens, agencies, interest groups and forest communities to restore the health and resilience of our forests

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