The Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership is an alliance of many academic, environmental, business and governmental organizations in Flagstaff, Arizona. The Partnership is dedicated to testing and adapting new approaches to restoring forest ecosystem health in the forests surrounding Flagstaff. The Partnership specifically seeks to:
- Restore natural ecosystem composition, structures and functions in ponderosa pine forests.
- Manage forest fuels to reduce the probability of catastrophic fire and to protect the community of Flagstaff.
- Research, test, develop, and demonstrate key ecological, economic, and social dimensions of restoration efforts.
While the Partnership does not claim any absolute solutions to these complex problems, we are committed to sharing the information we gain with others seeking to restore damaged forest ecosystems. Key elements of the Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership include:
- A Framework for Restoring Forest Ecosystems: The Partnership uses a framework of comprehensive ecological restoration as our guide in developing proposed actions in the forests. Restoration treatments may include combinations of selective small tree thinning, reintroduction of surface fire, access and recreation management activities, road obliteration, weed control, etc.
- Strong Scientific Foundation: Projects are designed based on a rigorous scientific understanding of the processes that shaped the natural ecosystem’s structure and function. Actions are proposed to improve forest ecosystem health and sustainability based upon this understanding.
- Restoration is Approached as an Experimental Field: The Partnership recognizes that there is much that we don’t know about restoring forest ecosystems. This uncertainty requires us to test a variety of approaches.
- Extensive Research and Monitoring: The Partnership is committed to researching and monitoring the key ecological, economic and social impacts and issues associated with landscape-scale restoration.
- Commitment to Adaptive Management: Research and monitoring results are fed back into the Partnership to improve the design of future projects. The Partnership’s scope covers a 100,000-acre analysis area, in which a mosaic of restoration activities are underway, moving in a step-wise, adaptive fashion. We estimate that ultimately 30-50% of the overall area will receive some type of restoration treatment.
- Broad-Based Inclusion of Interests: Diverse interests and the broad community are involved in the process of designing, implementing, monitoring and adapting restoration programs. There is a respect for and accommodation of social objectives.
- Separate Economic Demands for Wood Products from Restoration Forestry: The Partnership model seeks to separate economic interests from project design and implementation to ensure that ecological objectives are not influenced by economic motivations.
- Foster Sustainable Development and Restoration-Based Economies: However, the Partnership firmly believes that small trees, the renewable resource by-products of restoration, can and should be used in appropriately-scaled economic enterprises to create jobs and offset the high costs of restoration.
- The Partnership is One of Several Forest Management Efforts in the Flagstaff Area: There are a number of other related efforts to reduce hazardous fuels in the Flagstaff Wildland Urban Interface. These include Forest Service, City of Flagstaff Fire Department, Arizona State Forestry, and other projects.