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ISSN: 0022-1201

Don C. Bragg

Current Issue

Volume 112, Number 6, November 2014
  • publisher's note
  • research articles
    social sciences

    Perceptions on Climate Change Correlate with Willingness to Undertake Some Forest Adaptation and Mitigation Practices


    Results from a survey taken anonymously by 1,029 US-based respondents in forest management and academia highlight how individuals' perceptions about climate change correlated with their willingness to consider management prescriptions for forest ecosystems. About two-thirds of respondents identified themselves as having a professional land management role, and most of the remainder specialized in research or education. In most cases, respondents' willingness to try specific adaptation or mitigation measures related to the degree to which they agreed that "climate change is occurring because of human activities that release greenhouse gases to the atmosphere." The survey results are considered with a focus on which proposed practices and types of climate information received the most acceptance or resistance. For instance, respondents across the spectrum of climate change perceptions supported efforts to thin overly dense forests and opposed options to sequester carbon by promoting the woody invasion of grasslands or ignoring biodiversity.


    The results reported here might give forest managers insight about which specific adaptation and mitigation practices are likely to be supported (or not) by their colleagues in relation to or regardless of stance on climate change. The forestry and research community surveyed generally supported some practices that can improve the resiliency of forests to weather extremes and climate change, such as conducting thinning treatments and prescribed burns and detecting and removing exotic invasive species. These are logical program areas regarding climate change adaptation and mitigation to support and to request support for. The results were mixed for increasing landscape connectivity and encouraging natural and assisted species migration, but most respondents were at least willing to learn more about these practices. Supporting research and developing best management practices for these and related practices might help forests and the many species they support adapt to long-term climate change.

    geospatial technologies

    Automatic Mapping of Standing Dead Trees after an Insect Outbreak Using the Window Independent Context Segmentation Method


    Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the spruce bark beetle population in the Bavarian Forest National Park in southeastern Germany. There is a need for accurate and time-effective methods for monitoring the outbreak, because manual interpretation of image data is time-consuming and expensive. In this article, the window independent context segmentation method is used to map deadwood areas. The aim is to evaluate the method's ability to monitor deadwood areas on a yearly basis. Two-color infrared scenes with a spatial resolution of 40 × 40 cm from 2001 and 2008 were used for the study. The method was found to be effective with an overall accuracy of 88% for the 2001 scene and 90% for the 2008 scene.


    With increasing CO2 levels and changing climate, an increase in disturbances in forest ecosystems can be expected. There is, therefore, a need for improved methods that allow for more efficient monitoring of such disturbances, because visual interpretation of aerial images (in which areas of damaged trees are mapped by hand) is both time-consuming and expensive. In this article, a method for automatic monitoring of large-scale insect outbreaks, window independent context segmentation (WICS), is tested. The method has been used for mapping deadwood areas caused by the spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) in the Bavarian Forest National Park. The methodology is not dependent on human interpreters; thus, it is highly repeatable and suitable for change detection analysis. This study shows how the WICS method can be used for rapid assessment of large areas. In practice, this means that forest workers can be provided with actual maps, making it possible for effective bark beetle management, as even single trees are classified. Mapping can also be used to better understand and model the expansion of bark beetles in the landscape. When this technique is transferred to other types of images, such as medium- to low-resolution satellite images, even larger areas can be monitored.


    Washington State Small Forest Landowners: Who Intends to Develop Their Forestlands and When


    Increasing population and growing affluence continue to put development pressure on private forestlands in Washington State. We sent mail surveys to 7,400 small forest landowners. Landowners were asked to rate the development pressure on their property, to state whether they expect a significant portion of their property will be developed in the future, and, if so, to estimate the time to development. Using a spatially explicit sample of responses, we model landowner perception of development risk and the expected time to development. We found that pecuniary forest ownership characteristics such as the soil expectation value and active harvesting practices are positively related to the likelihood of anticipating forestland development. Conversely, nonpecuniary values, such as aesthetic enjoyment, correspond to a lower likelihood of anticipated development. In addition, landowners who have a forest plan were less likely to anticipate development. Results confirm the importance of economic factors and landowner objectives for understanding forestland development.


    Relating information about individual forest landowners' characteristics and objectives and characteristics of their forestlands to their beliefs regarding the likelihood and timing of significant development on their land can add to what managers and planners know about the patterns of development on private forestlands in Washington State. Of the small forest landowners (SFLOs) that responded to our survey, 22% anticipate that a significant portion of their property will be developed in the future. The parcels that are more likely to be developed are larger parcels in western Washington near to other developed parcels and further away from Washington State Department of Natural Resources land. In addition, we found that landowners who wish to extract the monetary value out of their forestland are more likely to intend to develop their land and expect that it will happen sooner than those who enjoy the nonmonetary benefits of forest ownership. These findings further highlight the importance of ownership objectives for forestland protection and suggest that policies aimed to protect SFLO land from development can be better targeted based on ownership values and objectives as well as the locational characteristics of the forestland. Further, simple estimates of current market returns to forestry versus developed uses have limited saliency in the respondents' prospective evaluations of the likelihood and timing of future development.

    fire & fuels management

    Developing and Aviation Exposure Index to Inform Risk-Based Fire Management Decisions


    Wildland firefighting is an inherently dangerous activity, and aviation-related accidents in particular comprise a large share of firefighter fatalities. Due to limited understanding of operational factors that lead to aviation accidents, it is unclear how local decisionmakers, responsible for requesting aviation support, can mitigate the risk of an aviation accident once resources are requested. This research expands the knowledge base regarding the quantification and analysis of aerial firefighting exposure by developing methods to evaluate expected aviation accident rates at the incident level using a metric called the aviation exposure index (AEI). Our analysis is based on coupling historical aviation accident rates (10-year average) with observed aviation resource use. As an example of the applicability of the approach, we present results according to aircraft type, unique incident, and incident jurisdiction for large wildfires that occurred during the 2012 US fire season. Ideally, the AEI could be automatically calculated and incorporated into incident decision support systems to help guide fire managers as they balance the complicated tradeoffs between attaining wildfire management objectives and reducing the exposure of individuals engaged in aerial firefighting activities.


    In this study, we evaluate methods to estimate the expected accident rates of aviation resources on individual large wildland fires with the introduction of the aviation exposure index (AEI), using the 2012 US fire season as a test case. We propose that efforts aimed at tracking expected aviation accidents on wildland fires are consistent with recent direction from the chief of the USDA Forest Service, stating that all suppression actions should be evaluated by balancing the likelihood of suppression success and avoided natural and developed resource loss achieved by suppression activities, against the type and amount of firefighter exposure to hazards. The real-time calculation of the AEI could help individuals charged with managing large wildfires consider the level of exposure of aviation personnel to the hazards of the wildland fire environment. The approach developed here could also help managers to better consider potential risk transference between aviation and ground personnel, for instance in situations where rugged and inaccessible terrain would lead fire managers to rely more heavily on aviation resources because they deem the risk to ground personnel to be too high.

  • review article
    biomass, carbon & bioenergy

    Forest Carbon Accounting Considerations in US Bioenergy Policy


    Four research-based insights are essential to understanding forest bioenergy and "carbon debts." (1) As long as wood-producing land remains in forest, long-lived wood products and forest bioenergy reduce fossil fuel use and long-term carbon emission impacts. (2) Increased demand for wood can trigger investments that increase forest area and forest productivity and reduce carbon impacts associated with increased harvesting. (3) The carbon debt concept emphasizes short-term concerns about biogenic CO2 emissions, although it is long-term cumulative CO2 emissions that are correlated with projected peak global temperature, and these cumulative emissions are reduced by substituting forest bioenergy for fossil fuels. (4) Considering forest growth, investment responses, and the radiative forcing of biogenic CO2 over a 100-year time horizon (as used for other greenhouse gases), the increased use of forest-derived materials most likely to be used for bioenergy in the United States results in low net greenhouse gas emissions, especially compared with those for fossil fuels.


    Wood products and energy resources derived from forests have the potential to play an important and ongoing role in mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The methods used to characterize the mitigation benefits of using biomass for energy, however, are being debated without considering some key insights from published research studies. Many recent proposals for biogenic carbon accounting are based on a narrow analysis of the short-term and direct GHG emissions impacts of using forest biomass. This review suggests that a broader view of forest-based activities is needed. Of particular importance to understanding the emissions impacts of increased use of biomass from forests are fossil fuel substitution effects, markets for wood, causes for ongoing gains and losses in forest area and forest carbon, landowners' motivations, benefits and timing of investments in forestry, and the warming impact of near-term and long-term increases in CO2 emissions. Studies that consider forest growth dynamics, landowner investment responses, and the warming impacts of biogenic CO2 over a time horizon consistent with that used for other GHGs reveal low warming impacts from biogenic CO2 associated with increased use of the types of forest biomass most likely to be used for energy in the United States. Such studies also show, for roundwood in particular, the importance of investment responses in contributing to low net emissions.

  • exploring the roots

    And the Beat Goes On

  • discussion
  • commentary

    Forest Ecosystem Services and the Scourge of Invasive Species

    Remembering Burt Barnes

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