Assessing Risks to Multiple Resources Affected by Wildfire and Forest Management Using an Integrated Probabilistic Framework
The tradeoffs that surround forest management are inherently complex, often involving multiple temporal and spatial scales. For example, conflicts may result when fuel treatments are designed to mediate long-term fuel hazards, but activities could impair sensitive aquatic habitat or degrade wildlife habitat in the short term. This complexity makes it hard for managers to describe and communicate the conditional nature of risk and to justify planned activities to stakeholders. In addition, our understanding of how proposed activities will affect resources of concern is often limited due to informational shortcomings and imprecise models. To be robust and transparent, a risk assessment framework needs to reveal these limitations while quantifying the probable outcomes of project effects to multiple resources of concern. In this analysis, we describe the effects of fuel treatments using such a planning framework called CRAFT (Comparative Risk Assessment Framework and Tools). CRAFT provides a platform from which diverse ancillary models and other relevant information can be transparently integrated and evaluated.
We conducted our case study in the southwestern Klamath Mountains of California. As is typical of most montane forests of California, this area has experienced decades of fire suppression, and severe effects from wildfire are a concern. Working with managers, we identified a range of measurable objectives involving the Wildland Urban Interface, fire behavior, fire effects, and sensitive wildlife. We then developed a conceptual model describing how components of the system inter-relate. From this, we developed a probabilistic framework, using Bayesian belief networks, in which we employed existing fire models to address how expected fire behavior varies across different burning scenarios. Our framework provides decision makers and stakeholders with insights into the condition probability that management alternatives will be successful.
- Introduction : Forest management decisions are often difficult because ecosystems are inherently complex, and the system’s response to management is uncertain.
- Study Area : We selected a 3000-km2 area located in the Klamath Mountains of northwestern California centered on the town of Hayfork.
- The CRAFT Process : The CRAFT planning process leads managers through four-stages involving: (1) objective setting and problem conceptualization, (2) alternatives design, (3) probabilistic modeling of effects, and (4) synthesis.
- Summary : The simple effects model shown here demonstrates how an important driver of forest outcomes—namely fire behavior—can be modeled in terms of conditional probability.
Encyclopedia ID: p3434