Participatory landscape analysis to guide restoration of ponderosa pine ecosystems in the American Southwest
Sisk, TD; Prather, JW; Hampton, HM; et al. 2006. Participatory landscape analysis to guide restoration of ponderosa pine ecosystems in the American Southwest. Landscape and Urban Planning. 78 (4): 300-310.
Sisk et al present a Participatory GIS (Geographic Information Systems) planning process that prioritized restoration treatments (thinning and prescribed fire) for a degraded ponderosa pine forest. The authors first generated maps of fire risk (probability of ignition) and fire hazard (fuels build up), then modeled the effect of various thinning and burning treatments on forest composition and structure, and finally ran stakeholder workshops to understand their preferred typse of treatment and treatment locations (location being most important). The authors claim that a democratic and collaborative process means easier implementation. Although assessing implementation will occur over a long time period, initial implementation has been effective. The authors emphasize leveraging partnerships with researchers, effective communication with non-experts, and scientific rigor by accommodating uncertainty in data.
I appreciate the emphasis on using the most reliable data (albeit imperfect), and the argument that “we know enough to act”. However, how well the models performed in predicting the results of 5 different treatment types was not emphasized for this paper, and I am concerned about the rigor and relevance of this aspect. If the public cared about location of treatment and not the type of treatment, did the research plan actually meet the planning need?