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A science-based paradigm for how we deal with forests and forest fires

Dr. Mary Booth, PFPI’s director, participated in a panel of scientists last week briefing Congressional staff on smarter, sounder policies to manage our forests and prevent catastrophic loss from wildfires. The forum, organized by the John Muir Project of the Earth Island Institute and hosted by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), challenged some of the prevailing thinking regarding what has led to property destruction and loss of life in recent wildfires across the country.

The scientific panel explained how land use development patterns, vegetation management, terrain, weather, housing construction, fire management practices, post-fire logging activities, and climate change all play a role in the size, intensity and damage caused by wildfires.

The panelists urged policymakers to base future fire management policies on sound science. Forest thinning, a commonly used approach to protecting homes from forest fires, has been proven not only ineffective at stopping the spread of fire, but causes ecological damage that can have implications on both ecosystem health and climate change.

Dr. Booth discussed the climate change implications of forest-thinning and post-fire logging for bioenergy.

You can watch the briefing here:

A Science Forum on Fire, Forests, Carbon and Communities
Randi Spivak – Public Lands Program Director, Center for Biological Diversity:
The Gap Between the Current Science and Forest Management Proposals .
The scientifically inaccurate and outdated assumptions upon which many current legislative proposals for forest and fire management are based.
Dr. Alexandra Syphard – Senior Research Scientist, Conservation Biology Institute:
Protecting Homes 101 – How Do We Let Fire be Fire and Protect Communities?
The scientifically proven methods to protect homes and communities from wildland fire.
Dr. Chad Hanson – Director and Principal Scientist, John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute:
Do We Have Too Much Fire? Are Forests Too Dense? And Other Burning Questions.
The science on fire history in our forests, historic vs. current forest density, species that need post-fire habitat, and ecological costs of commercial “thinning” and post-fire logging. Why it is logging, not fire, that threatens the iconic Spotted Owl.
Dr. Dominick DellaSala -President & Chief Scientist Geos Institute:
How Climate Change is Affecting Wildfires: Solutions Based on Science
The current science regarding the influence of climate change on fire in our forests, and why more logging and rollbacks of environmental laws are not a solution for protecting communities or maintaining fire-dependent ecosystems.
Dr. Mary Booth – Director, Partnership for Policy Integrity:
Why Doesn’t Logging Promoted as Fire Reduction Help Mitigate Climate Change?
The importance of protected forests for mitigating climate change, and the climate change implications of forest thinning and post-fire logging for bioenergy.

Partnership for Policy Integrity