Webinar: The Undesirable Guide to Forest Restoration

This came in from Dan Binkley at Colorado State University as a response to Dave, but I think it deserves its own post.

I thought I’d mention an idea that Megan Matonis and I are trying to develop and advocate: undesirable conditions as a guide to forest stewardship. We’ll be presenting a webinar on Friday this week that might be of interest (and we hope you might join in) — here’s the announcement:

The Southern Rockies Fire Science Network (SRFSN) with presenters Dan Binkley (Professor of Forest Ecology at Colorado State University) and Megan Matonis (PhD student at CSU, and Intern with the Rocky Mountain Research Station) are pleased to present:

SRFSN Webinar: The Undesirable Guide to Forest Restoration

Forest management has a long legacy of successfully (and unsuccessfully) designing forests for well-defined purposes. “Command and Control” approaches work well for tree farms with the singular goal of wood production, but the nature of complex forests is not well suited to this type of forecasting and engineering. “Desired Conditions” is closely related to Command and Control, and probably not very suitable for restoration of complex forests for uncertain futures. Perhaps the most fruitful approach is to identify Undesirable Conditions, and then work collaboratively to move away from the risk of the most egregious futures, and accepting a wide variety of future forests that will develop ecologically on our landscapes.

When: Friday, May 11 from 10:00-11:00 mountain time.

Who: Fire and vegetation practitioners, conservation planners, landscape planners, GIS professionals.

How: Register at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/352070905
You will then receive a confirmation email from “Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center” with information about joining the webinar.

SAF credit: The SRFSN will apply for SAF credit for continuing education by submitting the names of participants.

Questions: Contact Megan Kram, SRFSN Facilitator, at 303-257-0430
About the Southern Rockies Fire Science Network: http://www.srockiesfsn.org or http://www.srmeconsortium.org

3 thoughts on “Webinar: The Undesirable Guide to Forest Restoration”

  1. I am not sure that the inverse of desired conditions is much of an improvement. In fact, I think we are seeing this approach already. Think about “dog hair thickets,” “beetle infested forests,” “catastrophic burn” that needs to be salvaged, etc, etc Many of these conditions are actually desirable if you are a three-toed woodpecker, or a pileated woodpecker, or a black-backed woodpecker respectively.

    I prefer to ask the question “What is the optimal mix of treated and untreated stands, or actively and passively restored areas at all scales, both within a stand and across landscapes?”

    Which species benefit from active restoration such as density reduction and prescribed fire? Which species benefit from retaining dense canopy conditions and higher rates of mortality recruitment over time? How much of each type do we need to retain in order to maintain viable populations of species in all forest types?

  2. These notions of what we should be steering “toward” or “away from” are interesting mind games, and certainly both deserve attention in developing scenarios relative to uncertain, even unknowable futures. But my point in developing the base post was to suggest a third path: don’t lock into any single future, but instead “rehash the past and rehearse the future” via scenario planning (i.e. developing a bunch of guesses about the future as “story lines” but avoiding the temptation to lock into any of them; and instead use adaptive governance to adjust courses rapidly when necessary while engaging the public in the process of adaptive management).

    This alternative approach recognizes the import of what Peter Drucker called “the futurity of present decision-making,” by always keeping the future in the picture, but making decisions when needed, contingent on circumstances. For more on this Drucker notion, see here.

    • Thanks for the Drucker link Dave.

      Solid advice on strategic planning and doubly ironic that it is couched in the context of entrepreneurial planning and marketing. Especially ironic on the Tongass, because of the TTRA Section 101 clause “seek to meet market demand”.

      I’ve recently joined the Tonka Timber Sale Stewardship Working group and so far, it is structured of nothing BUT command and control, top-down directives which hobble the group capacity to accomplish anything in the way of meaningfully addressing a 30 year legacy of mismanagement in the project area (which has resulted in a crash in the deer, wolf, goshawk, and bear population.) I also appreciate your FACA reference links too, in past posts.

      Ironically, we are meeting again on Friday the 11th too. Though catastrophic burns are not topical for our rainforest issues I suspect there could be plenty to glean in the way of “command and control dynamics”.

      Sure would be nice to have a CiffNotes version of FACA basics though.


Leave a Comment