Simultaneous management of fire risk, carbon storage, and human and ecosystem co-benefits
Prof. Chris Field
Director, Woods Institute on the Environment
The West is in a bind, with rapidly increasing risk of catastrophic wildfire impacting lives, communities, and ecosystems throughout the region. Everyone in the region has experienced degraded quality of life from recent wildfires. Climate change imposes a heavy push in the direction of risks that continue to rise in the future, but a wide range of interventions can push in the opposite direction. Selecting an appropriate mix and intensity of interventions will depend on which goals we want to meet and how much we are willing to invest to meet them. Meeting key goals simultaneously (1. Limiting loss of life and property, 2. Protecting residents from unsafe air quality from smoke, and 3. Storing as much carbon as is safely possible in Western ecosystems) amplifies some of the challenges, but it also points to novel solutions. Most of these involve dramatic increases in forest management, including both prescribed burns and mechanical fuel reduction. These steps could lead to the re-emergence of a vibrant forestry sector, but one focused on protecting and improving ecosystems rather than on harvesting trees.
For seminar information, please contact Derek Fong at dfongATstanford.edu