Misinformation among landowners may inhibit reforestation efforts

March 11, 2019

Amid increasingly severe wildfire and the growing threat of climate change, California’s Forest Carbon Plan identifies reforestation as one means of carbon sequestration and climate mitigation. Researchers from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management and from UC Cooperative Extension interviewed 27 owners of non-industrial forest land whose properties burned in a 2014 wildfire in the central Sierra—and who were eligible to participate in a program offered by the nearby Resource Conservation District, a locally governed entity charged with providing tools and technical assistance to protect land and water resources.

The interviews were designed to gain insight into landowner perceptions of their burned forest land, their vegetation management decisions after the fire, and their experiences with programs that provide reforestation assistance. Many landowners reported that fire-related landscape changes had provoked an intense, lasting emotional reaction in them. All respondents reported that they had wanted to reforest their land but one-third reported that they would not have done so if the Resource Conservation District had not offered a free reforestation program. Respondents reported that climate mitigation had not been an important factor in their decisions about reforestation, often because they saw it as a global, rather than local, problem.

The authors suggest that the lack of understanding identified in their research may limit efforts to incorporate climate mitigation measures into reforestation projects. Outreach that links global change to local management needs is recommended.

Read the rest of the study in the Journal of Forestry.