Download the entire article from Fire Science here.
The Klamath-Siskiyou forest of southern Oregon and northern California is home to a fire-adapted conifer ecosystem that historically experienced frequent, low-intensity fire. Often the management response to severe fire in the Klamath- Siskiyou includes planting—there is genuine and historical concern that without planting, the conifers will diminish. But David Hibbs and his colleagues at Oregon State University realized that there were very little data on whether these forests require management-based planting to recover. They wondered if natural recovery was possible, even after severe wildfire. The team found a series of severely burned, unmanaged plots, and measured conifer abundance, age, and live-crown ratio. They found that even in unplanted, unmanaged burned forest natural conifer regeneration is reliable and abundant. Recruitment is also ongoing well after the fire. Furthermore, there was little evidence that tree recruitment was affected by distances as great as 400 meters to source trees. Their results suggest that in many cases, planting may not be required to support conifer forest recovery in the Klamath-Siskiyou.
- On most sites, natural regeneration of conifers was abundant 10 to 20 years after a fire.
- Natural regeneration of conifers was usually abundant up to 400 meters from living trees. It was difficult to find places more than 400 meters from living trees.
- Conifers continued regenerating 10 to 15 years after the fire.
- Natural regeneration was most limited on the drier, hotter low elevation, southern slopes on the eastern Klamath Mountains.
- Shrub cover was positively associated with seedling growth in the Douglas-fir/tanoak association and negatively in the white fire association.