The implementation of US federal forest restoration programs on national forests is a complex process that requires balancing diverse socioecological goals with project economics. Despite both the large geographic scope and substantial investments in restoration projects, a quantitative decision support framework to locate optimal project areas and examine tradeoffs among alternative restoration strategies is lacking. We developed and demonstrated a new prioritization approach for restoration projects using optimization and the framework of production possibility frontiers. The study area was a 914,657 ha national forest in eastern Oregon, US that was identified as a national priority for restoration with the goal of increasing fire resiliency and sustaining ecosystem services. The results illustrated sharp tradeoffs among the various restoration goals due to weak spatial correlation of forest stressors and provisional ecosystem services. The sharpest tradeoffs were found in simulated projects that addressed either wildfire risk to the urban interface or wildfire hazard, highlighting the challenges associated with meeting both economic and fire protection goals. Understanding the nature of tradeoffs between restoration objectives and communicating them to forest stakeholders will allow forest managers to more effectively design and implement economically feasible restoration projects.
Vogler, K. C., Ager, A. A., Day, M. A., Jennings, M., & Bailey, J. D. (2015). Prioritization of forest restoration projects: Tradeoffs between wildfire protection, ecological restoration and economic objectives. Forests, 6(12), 4403–4420. https://doi.org/10.3390/f6124375