Study shows how restoring overpopulated forests can bring multiple and diverse benefits | UCI News

Mechanical thinning of California forests can reduce the severity of wildfires by removing accumulated vegetation that fuels fires. Science-based forest management practices could also reduce CO2 emissions from fires, say researchers from UCI, UC Merced and UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources , promote carbon storage in remaining trees, and improve water supply reliability for the state’s agricultural sector. , communities and hydropower producers.

In a recent article published in Restoration ecologyscientists report that ‘ecosystem services’ such as improved air quality, wildlife habitat, soil retention and water resources had not been a priority in previous development undertakings forest management, which were mainly devoted to resource extraction.

“This research recognized that given the complexity of forest ecosystems in the western United States, required investments, and management constraints, increasing forest resilience requires a range of actions,” said co-author Benis Egoh, UCI Assistant Professor of Earth System Science. “Considering the perceived interactions of ecosystem services is essential to valuing the multiple benefits of restoration investments and monetizing these benefits in an equitable manner.”

Co-author Roger Bales, UC Merced Professor Emeritus of Engineering, said, “Reducing fuel loads is increasingly recognized as an effective measure to transition our western United States forests from a destructive regime to a beneficial forest fire regime. Our research supports the perception that California’s wildfire-vulnerable forests should primarily and urgently be restored to conditions that better regulate wildfire severity and thereby provide better fire protection and other benefits from forest fires. ecosystem services. Less severe wildfires are a natural and beneficial part of these ecosystems. »