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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 restoration using an all lands approach
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.

overly dense forests
Overly Dense Forests

Stand Structure & Species Composition

Changes over 20th Century

Created by fire exclusion over many decades. 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


During the 10 years 2000-2009, approximately 261,000 acres burned into a deforested condition in places where planting should be considered. In that same time period, approximately 125,000 acres were planted."

large scale disturbance insect and disease
Large Scale Disturbance – Insect and Disease
  • Insect and disease infestations are a major cause of tree mortality in California. When, where, and the extent to which mortality occurs is influenced by tree density and weather patterns. - drought
  • During the past eight years bark beetles have caused high levels of tree mortality on more than 6 million acres in California’s forests.

Trees killed by Bark Beetles;

Tahoe Basin, Klamath and Modoc NFs

california population
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

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

the ecosystem services that healthy resilient forests provide
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.


New Research at Pacific Northwest Research Station

Based on 1,346 forest inventory plots 2006-2009

Some California forests are already net admitters of carbon based on large scale disturbances; Sierra, San Bernardino NFs

Protected areas may not be accumulating carbon as expected

Will be published in a scientific journal in the next couple months

business as usual will not get us where we need to be
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, trends show that disturbance impacts will outpace the benefits of these treatments in the next few decades.

The ability of national forests to sequester carbon and deliver a whole host of ecosystem services is in jeopardy,

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
How do we get to where we need to be?

The Challenge

Reverse the trend

Significantly increase the pace and scale of restoration work (from about 200,000 acres/yr to about 500,000 acres/yr)

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