Funded Research Projects: FOREST ECOLOGY

Using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to Guide Burned Landscape Recovery and Restoration in Sierra Nevada Forests

Research Sponsored By: US Forest Service
Principal Investigator: Jerry Franklin
Project Description
Over the last decade Forest Service Region 5 Sierra Nevada forests have experienced a number of large fires that have burned under extreme weather conditions and produced extensive areas of high-severity fire effects. In many instances post-burn conditions are outside our understanding of historic fire patterns, making it difficult to predict forest recovery and landscape resilience. Furthermore, managers may have a powerful set of tools for understanding stand dynamics but currently lack the means, metrics, and analytical tools to assess landscape-level disturbance, connectivity, and restoration objectives. Recent work has demonstrated the ability to airborne LiDAR data to address these objectives. Airborne LiDAR provides unique, high-resolution measurements of vertical and horizontal structure of individual tree clumps and gaps over large areas. LiDAR collection alone, however, cannot address management needs without a concurrent investment in the development of LiDAR-based analysis and metrics of landscape forest heterogeneity and restoration progress. This project will be a collaborative effort between UW SEFS and the USDA to develop LiDAR and GIS tools to quantify current and desired structure and pattern across Sierra Nevada forest landscapes. In addition, training for forest managers in how to use the new methods and tools and apply them will be developed and delivered.