Image: Yosemite Valley by Jesse Gardner / Unsplash

Healthy, resilient forests provide critical ecosystem services that are essential to climate adaptation in California. Forested lands make up roughly one third of our state, covering nearly 32 million acres. Because of the broad variety of climate zones in California, the State hosts an exceptional diversity of plant and animal species in forest ecosystems that provide essential habitat for native wildlife, store carbon, and filter drinking water. Forest products and forest-based recreation also support rural communities and the state economy. In addition to wildland forests, the urban tree canopy covers 15 percent of California’s urban areas, providing green space and public health benefits to 95 percent of Californians who live in cities.[1] Finally, nearly two-thirds of California’s developed water supply originates from the streams and rivers of the Southern Cascades and Sierra Nevada mountain regions,[2] tying healthy forests to the well-being of most the state’s population, over 25 million residents.

Unfortunately, many of California’s forests are currently degraded as a result of fire suppression activities, past management practices, and climate change. California forests were historically shaped by low-intensity frequent fire;[3] many forests are recently overgrown and have missed their natural fire cycles. As a result, they are less resilient to stresses exacerbated by climate change.[4] These degraded forests are not able to provide the full range of carbon and water storage benefits that could help the state mitigate and adapt to climate change. Furthermore, fragmented and overstocked forests provide less suitable habitat for wildlife and make it more challenging for species to migrate in response to a changing climate.

Given the variety of wildland and urban forest ecosystems and land ownership patterns in California, and the challenges brought on by climate change, there is no single prescription that will restore forest health on its own.[5] However, investing in a number of activities can significantly improve forest resilience.[6] Restoring and protecting forest ecosystem function by reintroducing fire and improving management is necessary to both protect California’s forest base and enhance watershed health. Furthermore, community resilience can be supported by rebuilding California’s forest management workforce, using the workforce to expand the extent and health of California’s urban tree canopy, and advance fire preparedness. Finally, it is important to both foster creative solutions to sustainably utilize biomass from fuels reduction activities, and to better understand climate trends in forests via research and monitoring. In order for each of these activities to be effective in building forest resilience to climate change, collaborative partnerships are critical - particularly with the federal government, which owns over 50% of California’s forest land. Overall, there remains a need for strategies that work across state, federal, tribal, nonprofit, and private management partners and are tailored to address regional needs and ecosystem conditions.

All Resources for Forests


Combating Tree Mortality - Safeguarding California Example

California Natural Resources Agency. 2018
Wildfire
Project or Example
California state agencies collaborated to compile each of these examples, associated with Safeguarding California's 2018 update, to show how California is preparing for and adjusting to various extreme events brought on by climate change. Each of these examples highlights unique strategies, funded by the state, to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change. The examples are tagged with icons from the Safeguarding California Report, classifying stories by sector. This example highlights combatting tree mortality in the Sierra Nevada mountains by removing dead trees, improving forest health and removing public safety hazards.

Fire Probability for Carbon Accounting

Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP). 2018
Wildfire
Data, tools, and research
Web Map application intended to aid in the summarization of fire probability data for specific project sites. The tool also helps to quantify greenhouse gas benefits of fuel reduction activities funded under 2016-17 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF).

Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP)

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 2018
Drought Temperature Wildfire
Assessment Data, tools, and research Planning and policy guidance
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Fire and Resource Assessment Program assesses the amount and extent of California's forests and rangelands, analyzes their conditions, and identifies alternative management and policy guidelines. The Program includes updates on drought and tree mortality, houses GIS data and maps, and includes guidance on fire hazard severity zones by mapping areas of significant fire hazards based on fuels, terrain, weather, and other relevant factors.

Forest Conservation Program

California Wildlife Conservation Board. 2017
Wildfire
Data, tools, and research Planning and policy guidance
The Wildlife Conservation Board’s Forest Conservation Program aims to promote the ecological integrity and economic stability of California’s diverse native forests for all their public benefits through forest conservation, preservation and restoration of forestlands, including the conservation of water resources and natural habitat for native fish and wildlife and plants found on these lands.

Fuel Reduction at Lake Theodore - Safeguarding California Example

California Natural Resources Agency. 2018
Wildfire
Project or Example
California state agencies collaborated to compile each of these examples, associated with Safeguarding California's 2018 update, to show how California is preparing for and adjusting to various extreme events brought on by climate change. Each of these examples highlights unique strategies, funded by the state, to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change. The examples are tagged with icons from the Safeguarding California Report, classifying stories by sector. Showcased in this example are the efforts of a partnership to reduce fire fuel load in Lake Theodore, a high priority fire prevention location.

King Fire Watershed Rehabilitation and Reforestation - Safeguarding California Example

California Natural Resources Agency. 2018
Wildfire
Project or Example
California state agencies collaborated to compile each of these examples, associated with Safeguarding California's 2018 update, to show how California is preparing for and adjusting to various extreme events brought on by climate change. Each of these examples highlights unique strategies, funded by the state, to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change. The examples are tagged with icons from the Safeguarding California Report, classifying stories by sector. This example demonstrates a partnership effort, funded by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, to reforest after the King Fire of 2014.

Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program

Sierra Nevada Conservancy. 2018
Drought Flooding Snowpack Temperature Wildfire
Communication or educational material
The Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program is a large scale restoration program designed to restore Sierra forests and watersheds to a healthier state, reduce the risk and consequences of large, damaging wildfires, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize carbon storage, improve and protect air and water quality, and preserve working landscapes. The Program includes an online data library with stories, maps, and data focused on the Sierra Nevada Region.

Imperial Valley Urban Forest Expansion - Safeguarding California Example

California Natural Resources Agency. 2018
Extreme heat
Project or Example
California state agencies collaborated to compile each of these examples, associated with Safeguarding California's 2018 update, to show how California is preparing for and adjusting to various extreme events brought on by climate change. Each of these examples highlights unique strategies, funded by the state, to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change. The examples are tagged with icons from the Safeguarding California Report, classifying stories by sector. In this example, urban forests were planted predominantly in disadvantaged communities by a partnership of cities and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to save energy, offer protection during extreme heat, and improve public health.

Sacramento Tree Foundation Urban Wood Rescue - Safeguarding California Example

California Natural Resources Agency. 2018
Project or Example
California state agencies collaborated to compile each of these examples, associated with Safeguarding California's 2018 update, to show how California is preparing for and adjusting to various extreme events brought on by climate change. Each of these examples highlights unique strategies, funded by the state, to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change. The examples are tagged with icons from the Safeguarding California Report, classifying stories by sector. This example highlights a grant to remove and reuse urban wood in Sacramento that would otherwise be considered waste, sequestering greenhouse gases and improving the environment for urban vegetation.

Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2018
Drought Extreme heat Extreme storms Flooding Ocean acidification Sea level rise Snowpack Temperature Wildfire
Data, tools, and research
Web-based tool that provides professional land managers and planners the most current climate change science available. It delivers access to the most current peer-reviewed publication findings describing effects and management options, and interactive maps of climate projections and models, that provide insight into climate influences on natural resources.