It was fall 2015, and massive wildfires had devastated parts of eastern Washington. Yet as James Schroeder, Conservation Director for the Conservancy in Washington, toured the damage, he saw very different impacts.
Some areas were totally scorched. But where forests had been managed with thinning and controlled burns, the landscape was still green and vibrant. There, the impact of wildfire was beneficial, not destructive, says Schroeder. “I was amazed to see how well the thinning and controlled burn had worked to make the forest more resilient to the wildfire.”
Now, a scientific study has put real numbers on the power of such tactics to combat not only forest fires, but climate change itself. The report, called Natural Climate Solutions for the United States, analyzed the potential for various natural land management strategies to reduce or offset carbon emissions, slowing the alarming pace of climate change.
Their conclusion: forests matter. A lot.
a forest that has been thinned and treated with prescribed fire comes back green and better able to withstand wildfire. Photo (c) John Marshall
The report by Nature Conservancy scientist Joseph Fargione and more than a dozen research institutions outlined 21 natural strategies which, added together, could counter