Friday, October 2, 2015

Arizona Projects Based on Partnerships and Sound Science

Test site for ecological effects of thinning & fire. Photo: Andrew Bernier, KJZZ
Northwest of Flagstaff is at a test plot studying forest thinning and its ecological effects. Surrounded by a control area of small trees, towering ponderosas stand alone in open grasses.

The cut and burned plots showcase a great diversity of flowers, supporting more insects and pollinators in contrast to the control area where small trees rob sunlight and water. At the Ecological Restoration Institute, Wally Covington describes below, what forests in Arizona used to look like.

Diane Vosick, also with ERI, describes what changed. “When Smokey Bear took fire out of the system, we lost our biggest predator in terms of dealing with small trees, which was fire,” said Vosick.

Vosick is also co-chair of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI), which is attempting to thin 2.4 million acres of Arizona forests that have grown 10 to 30 times their normal density. Covington said when the small trees are removed, the difference is immediate.

“The canopies just look healthier. And immediately post burn you see increases in ammonium and nitrate, increases in phosphorus availability, potassium availability, and water availability,” said Covington. Click on the vid for more.  And here for the article

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