Forest Health Management

Durham cypress swamp. Photo by LFLamb, for reuse


Rural North Carolina: An International Battleground on Forests and Climate Change

by Danna Smith, Founder and Executive Director, Dogwood Alliance Category: , ,

Today, most people understand that transitioning away from fossil fuels toward clean energy is essential to solving the climate crisis. Despite the fact that the Trump administration pulled out of the historic Paris Agreement, it’s been inspiring to see the flurry of activity on the part of states, municipalities and corporations across the nation committed to ensuring the U.S. does its part to meet the ambitious goals by committing to transition toward 100 percent clean energy. While this is certainly encouraging, we must face a harsh reality. Essential, getting off fossil fuels won’t be enough. Every scientific model I have seen proposing pathways to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius includes both a rapid reduction in carbon emissions and a dramatic increase in the amount of carbon dioxide being removed from the atmosphere. Standing natural forests are the only proven system that can operate at the scale necessary to remove enough carbon from the atmosphere within the timeframe necessary to avoid climate catastrophe. Equally as important, standing forests provide a safety net that can mitigate the effects... read more +

The “Fire Forests” of the southeast need fire the way rain forests need rain. Photo (c) Anne Liles


Fire and the Longleaf Pines of the Southern US: A Bright Future for a Magical Forest

by Angie Carl, SE Coastal Plain Stewardship & Fire Program Manager, The Nature Conservancy Category: ,

The longleaf pine forests of the southern US have a unique and subtle beauty. The secret to this beauty is fire. The “Fire Forests” of the southeast need fire the way rain forests need rain. Most of the plants and animals here have adapted to years of fires that occurred as frequently as every one to five years, through lightning and Native American burning. Without these fires the woods become overgrown, shading out the natural systems and rare plants that therefore can no longer survive. I have been leading burns in the forests of southeast North Carolina for 13 years. They are some of the most beautiful and difficult forest in which to burn. I do it because the health of our unique forests – an amazing array of carnivorous plants, orchids, grasses, birds, bears, bobcats, and many other animals depends on it. A dramatic fact is that the Venus Flytrap, which now only grows here naturally, would die off forever if we ceased to burn. Recently The Nature Conservancy (TNC) purchased a new tract in Brunswick County,... read more +


Lesli Allison: Our Changing Forests

by Lesli Allison, Executive Director, Western Landowners Alliance Category:

Louis Bacon‘s Trinchera Blanca Foundation recently hosted a roundtable discussion in southern Colorado about best practices in forest health management with partners and other practitioners in the area. A thought leader in this conversation is Lesli Allison, founding member and Executive Director of the Western Landowners Alliance and the Chama Peak Land Alliance. Through both organizations, Lesli has worked extensively with private landowners and multiple stakeholders to advance conservation, sustain working lands and support rural communities.  When I was a young child, my family lived in a cabin in a tiny inholding in the middle of a national forest. It was nestled in the bottom of a narrow canyon, three miles up a rugged two-track road. With the exception of a few generally vacant summer cabins, we had no neighbors. We also had no television, no phone and no radio.  My mother taught school and left early each day. My father stayed at home, trying to write the next great American novel. Because he needed to concentrate, my father tossed me out of the house whenever the weather was fair and I was left... read more +

A fine balance: a healthy forest counters living trees with those dead and dying.


Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities, Healthy Landscapes – Letting Fire Back In

by Tony Cheng, Professor of forestry and director of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University Category:

My kids are at an age where they still like to hang out with me. My work as a forestry professor at Colorado State University, where I’m also the director of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, takes me out into the woods a lot. I frequently drag my kids along on field trips, where I give presentations to a variety of audiences. Unlike calculus, forestry is a tangible science, where even kids can immediately grasp concepts. On a recent field trip that my son attended, he afterwards said, “Fire is actually good for the forest, right dad?” The simple answer is, “Yes.”  But it’s obviously more complicated. Like anything in the natural world, simple answers belie how complex things really are. Like in virtually every place on the planet, the forests of the Rocky Mountains are facing an uncertain future. Wildfires, large insect outbreaks, and other climate-induced die-offs are changing the complexion of the region’s forests. This has led to a common refrain: we are facing a “forest health crisis.”  But what exactly is a healthy forest?  There... read more +


Collaboration, Teamwork and Commitment: A Formula for Reducing Wildfire Danger

by Christopher Topik, Director of NA Forest Conservation, The Nature Conservancy Category:

Once again we are witnessing tragic fires in the western United States that are harming people, water, and wildlife. In recent years, bemoaning our severe fire seasons has become an all-too common annual lament, heard from the coffee shop to Congress.  Since 1960 the shoulders of the fire season have broadened by nearly two additional months each year, due to hotter, dryer, and more dangerous forest conditions. But unlike hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes, fires are unique; they are the one natural disaster about which we have a choice. We tend to think of fire management in terms of the massive mobilization of firefighters, air tankers, supplies, and slurry drops; instead, what if we could mobilize the social and political will to perform wide-scale proactive forest treatments, to better inoculate our communities, forests, and waters from the worst of fire’s destructive effects? This is exactly the possibility 75 of the nation’s leading experts gathered at the White House to discuss on May 18. The room included first responders and fire experts, land managers and government officials, conservationists and business... read more +