Production possibility frontiers and socioecological tradeoffs for restoration of fire adapted forests

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  • We used spatial optimization to analyze alternative restoration scenarios and quantify tradeoffs for a large, multifaceted restoration program to restore resiliency to forest landscapes in the western US. We specifically examined tradeoffs between provisional ecosystem services, fire protection, and the amelioration of key ecological stressors. The results revealed that attainment of multiple restoration objectives was constrained due to the joint spatial patterns of ecological conditions and socioeconomic values. We also found that current restoration projects are substantially suboptimal, perhaps the result of compromises in the collaborative planning process used by federal planners, or operational constraints on forest management activities. The juxtaposition of ecological settings with human values generated sharp tradeoffs, especially with respect to community wildfire protection versus generating revenue to support restoration and fire protection activities. The analysis and methods can be leveraged by ongoing restoration programs in many ways including: 1) integrated prioritization of restoration activities at multiple scales on public and adjoining private lands, 2) identification and mapping of conflicts between ecological restoration and socioeconomic objectives, 3) measuring the efficiency of ongoing restoration projects compared to the optimal production possibility frontier, 4) consideration of fire transmission among public and private land parcels as a prioritization metric, and 5) finding socially optimal regions along the production frontier as part of collaborative restoration planning.
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  • Keywords: Forest restoration, Spatial optimization, Restoration tradeoffs, Wildfire, Restoration prioritization, Ecosystems services
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  • Ager, A. A., Day, M. A., & Vogler, K. (2016). Production possibility frontiers and socioecological tradeoffs for restoration of fire adapted forests. Journal of Environmental Management, 176, 157-168. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.01.033
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  • 176
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  • This work was funded by the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, Oregon.
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