Prognosis for the Future

Prognosis for the Future

In the past 20 years, many public and private landowners, ecologists, foresters, and wildlife managers have recognized the very poor condition of southwestern Ponderosa Pine ecosystems throughout the region. Additional investigations into the optimal natural characteristics of the ecosystem and the variations in current conditions are contributing to the development of specific ecological restoration and management principles for Ponderosa pine ecosystems, leading to greater understanding of how to reforest, restore, and manage these ecosystems for multiple uses.

One primary goals of restoration is to reduce tree density and “ladder fuels,” which in turn diminishes the risk of severe fires, protects remaining large trees, restores low-intensity ground-fires, increases the abundance of grasses and forbs, and boosts overall diversity of native species.  Prescribed fire, selective thinning, and carefully managed grazing are all being tested and applied in Ponderosa pine ecosystems across the southwest.

Still, these pervasive changes to the ecosystem and the considerable pressure on forest managers to protect rural towns and suburbs from fires make the issues that land conservationists are facing even more difficult and complex. The successful restoration of ponderosa pine ecosystems to the American Southwest is by no means assured.

A Conservation Success Story – Northern Arizona Ponderosa Ecosystem Restoration

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