2024 journal article

Keeping up with the landscapes: promoting resilience in dynamic social-ecological systems

ECOLOGY AND SOCIETY, 29(1).

By: P. Manley, J. Long & R. Scheller*‚ÄČ

author keywords: adaptive management; climate change; forest landscape dynamics; social-ecological resilience; systems modeling
Source: Web Of Science
Added: February 12, 2024

Forest managers working in dry forest ecosystems must contend with the costs and benefits of fire, and they are seeking forest management strategies that enhance the resilience of forests and landscapes to future disturbances in a changing climate. An interdisciplinary science team worked with resource managers and stakeholders to assess future forest ecosystem dynamics, given potential climatic changes and management strategies, across a 23,000-ha landscape in the Lake Tahoe basin of California and Nevada in support of the Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership. We projected forest growth and fire dynamics using a landscape change model, upon which the science team layered additional modeling to evaluate changes in wildlife habitat, water, and economics. Managers and stakeholders used the findings of this integrated modeling effort to inform the design of a landscape restoration strategy that balanced risks and benefits based on a robust scientific foundation. The results, published in this Special Feature, suggest that a continuation of status quo management would be less effective at protecting and improving desired outcomes than more active and extensive management approaches. In addition, the types of management activity also affected ecosystem outcomes. Results from across the studies in this special feature suggest that thinning and prescribed fire were complementary, although they resulted in somewhat different effects, and that low-severity use of fire had the greatest array and magnitude of ecosystem benefits. A notable exception was carbon storage, which declined with more active management and prescribed fire in particular. We highlight key findings from this Special Feature and summarize key challenges and some lessons learned in our experience of co-producing science. In short, science-management partnerships require cooperation, patience, and skill, but they are effective in increasing the capacity of land managers to navigate in an environment of rapid change and increasing uncertainty.