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Individual Highlight

Balancing Forest Carbon Storage, Wildfire, and Sensitive Species Habitat

Photo of Prescribed fires, like this one in El Dorado National Forest,  can reduce wildfire fuels. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Prescribed fires, like this one in El Dorado National Forest, can reduce wildfire fuels. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : Land managers can increase carbon stocks while providing endangered species habitat if fuels reduction (primarily prescribed fire, but also understory thinning) is strategically used.

Principal Investigators(s) :
North, Malcolm P. 
Research Station : Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 942

Summary

Many sensitive species require dense forest conditions and high canopy cover, conditions that are prone to burning at high severity during wildfire and that produce immediate (i.e., smoke) and prolonged (i.e., dead wood decomposition) carbon losses. Forest Service scientists and their partners at Pennsylvania State and Northern Arizona universities compared these tradeoffs in three different forest types with contrasting fire regimes and sensitive species: Southeastern longleaf pine with red-cockaded woodpeckers, Southwest ponderosa pine with Mexican spotted owls, and Pacific Northwest Douglas-fir with the western gray squirrel. In three published papers, researchers describe how to strategically provide habitat in higher productivity areas (ex. moist sites that support larger trees) while managing forests for their carbon-carrying capacity. With this approach, all three areas would be able to achieve multiple objectives that had initially seemed incompatible.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Pennsylvania State University