Nature does the real restoration work. We are just trying to learn how to do things that help, without causing additional problems. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.
Remember the Forest
— Retain old and large trees – the most fire resistant component of the forest.
— Consider broader landscape level conditions when planning site-specific restoration activities.
— Plan restoration-thinning treatments over time; follow up the initial treatment in intervals over a several year period, allowing the forest to adjust to the alteration of the vegetation.
— Design and implement treatments for site-specific conditions. Adjust ecological thinning prescriptions and treatments to accommodate various ecotypes and forest stands.
— Maintain uneven-aged forest stands and representatives of all age classes, to retain a diverse, multi-layered forest structure.
— Maintain shaded areas and overstory canopy cover in mixed conifer forests. (Adjust for differences in regional biodiversity, as in pine-oak savanna).
— Retain a diversity of tree and plant species.
–As a goal when revegetating a site, plant only native species.
—- Include indigenous land use methods and traditional ecological knowledge as an historic guide and reference in ecosystem restoration.
Remember the Fire
— Carefully plan and implement prescribed burning treatments to provide the ecologically beneficial effects of fire, and to maintain reduced fuel loads whenever possible. Assure proper permitting procedures are followed, and always plan for the safety of human communities.
— Following prescribed fire, reseed selected areas with native grasses to enhance site conditions.
Remember the wildlife.
— Leave some areas untreated, for the birds and wildlife using the area.
— Thin in a mosaic pattern- leaving thickets, maintaining natural openings and meadows, and enhancing older forest stands by maintaining canopy cover.
— Leave some small piles of cut material un-burned, as habitat for wildlife.
— Leave buffers of undisturbed vegetation in streamside riparian areas.
— Retain snags for wildlife habitat. Chart their locations for monitoring, and fire safety precautions.
Remember the soil.
— Develop thinning treatments in relationship to slope, aspect and soil types.
— Place thinned logs on the ground, perpendicular to the slope, to catch upslope erosion and contribute to future soil formation.
— In steep slopes and sensitive soil types lop and scatter coarse woody debris.
Remember the people.
— Listen to residents and neighbors. They know the ways in which each site is unique.
— Match site diversity with worker diversity. Different cultures each have their own ways of understanding the complex diversity of nature.
— Train workers about ecological principles, and how to see the special characteristics of each place.
— Involve the workforce in the design, planning, and monitoring of restoration projects.
— Educate the restoration workforce about forest and fire ecology, watershed and riparian function, botany etc.
— Pay workers according to their training, experience, and quality of work.
— Pay workers well, and listen to them. Happy, respected people do the best work.
— Look for useable material to carry from the site for poles, furniture, spoons, fuels, etc.
Monitor and Learn
— Incorporate monitoring strategies to evaluate restoration treatment effectiveness. Work with specialists to develop monitoring protocols for projects that measure a variety of resources including soils, trees and vegetation, wildlife, aquatic habitat, etc.
— Keep complete records of prior conditions, work accomplished, and the time, money, and people that it took.
—Watch & document what happens over time.
— Review information about similar sites before deciding how to treat new ones.