Main content area

Forest fuel treatments in western North America: merging silviculture and fire management

Johnson, M.C., Peterson, D.L.
Forestry chronicle 2005 v.81 no.3 pp. 365
forests, forest fires, fire behavior, forest fire management, fire hazard reduction, silvicultural practices, forest management, forest stands, stand structure, stand density, tree crown, dry environmental conditions, fire ecology, decision making, simulation models, fuels (fire ecology), Western United States, North America
For many years silviculture and fire management have mostly been separate forestry disciplines with disparate objectives and activities. However, in order to accomplish complex and multiple management objectives related to forest structure, fuels, and fire disturbance, these two disciplines must be effectively integrated in science and practice. We have linked scientific and management tools to develop an analytical approach that allows resource managers to quantify and evaluate the effectiveness of alternative fuel treatments in dry interior forests of western North America. The principal tool is the Fire and Fuels Extension of the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FFE-FVS) for characterizing fuel succession and fire behaviour, and for quantifying and visualizing stand structure. FFE-FVS provides a user-friendly framework that facilitates rapid evaluation of thinning and surface fuel treatments intended to reduce crown fire potential and fireline intensity. This approach quantifies fire hazard at small and large spatial scales, assists with treatment priorities and schedules, and generates stand and landscape visualizations that facilitate decisions about appropriate fuel treatments.