Category: Ecological Research
Title: Fact Sheet: The Economics of Ecological Restoration and Hazardous Fuel Reduction Treatments in Ponderosa Pine Forest Ecosystem.
Author: Taylor, M.H., * Sanchez-Meador, A.J.
Subject: Economics, Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), Fuel Reduction
Abstract: Increases in tree densities due to historical suppression of low-severity wildfires in frequent fire regimes is one of the primary drivers of increasing wildfire hazard in the United States. These severe fires are often ex-pensive and difficult to suppress and can damage property and infrastructure, endanger human life, and lead to undesirable, and sometimes irreversible, changes in ecosystem function. Fuels and fire managers seeking to reduce costs and damages resulting from wildfires (e.g., Fig. 1) have two treatment options: hazardous fuel reduction treatments (HFRTs), which focus on reducing fuel loading and changing fuel characteristics to achieve short-term reductions in wildfire hazard; or ecological restoration treatments (ERTs), which are a composite of treatments (i.e., thinning followed by repeated burning) that focus on ecosystem recovery and function typically through treatments targeting historical stand composition and structure. In this study we use state-and-transition modeling to evaluate and compare the economic benefits and costs of ERTs and HFRTs in the ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest ecosystem of the Colorado Plateau in the western United States (henceforth the “PIPO ecosystem”). This is the first study to evaluate and compare the economic benefits and costs of ERTs and HFRTs in a forested ecosystem where increasing wildfire hazard is driven by increased surface and canopy fuel loading attributed to historical suppression of low-severity wild-fires. Increased fuel loading is a pervasive problem in the United States and land managers face and ongoing dilemma over the choice between ERTs and HFRTs.
Type: Fact Sheet
Source: ERI - Fact Sheet
Publisher: Ecological Restoration Institute