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High Sierra Forests: Plant Diversity a Casualty of High-Severity Wildfires

High Sierra Forests: Plant Diversity a Casualty of High-Severity Wildfires

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 03 October 2019



Researcher in Sierra Nevada Forest
Investigating plant diversity within a transect line of a Sierra Nevada forest affected by drought and wildfire, Courtesy Clark Richter.
UC Davis' Clark Richter investigates plant diversity within a transect line of a Sierra Nevada forest affected by drought and wildfire, Courtesy Clark Richter.


High Sierra Forest Decline

Plant Diversity a Casualty of High-Severity Wildfires,
University of California - Davis, October 3, 2019.


"Sierra Nevada forests are losing plant diversity due to high-severity fires."

Forest Succession
"These fires are turning patches of forest into shrub fields -- indefinitely, in some cases."

Legacy of Suppression
"...scientists analyzed plant diversity across a spectrum of fire severity -- from low to moderate to high. They found the sweet spot for plant diversity exists where tree stands burned with low-to-moderate severity, as mixed conifer forests did in this region for millennia...

Blames Suppression
What about our Radically Changed Climate & Seasons?
"...before the imposition of fire suppression policies in the early 20th century. Such policies have greatly increased forest density and the amount of woody fuels in many California forests and led to more severe, stand-replacing fires."

Outside Limits
"This system is experiencing a different kind of fire. The species are outside of their limits. More high-severity fires greatly change a diverse and highly varied forest to one where all the trees are dead and what's left is often just a few species of shrub, not the herbs and wildflowers you may be used to seeing."

Dry Future
"Five to 10 years or more after experiencing high-severity burns, many forest stands were replaced by shrub fields that supported few plant species."

Feedback Loop of Death
"...there is a real possibility that large portions of the Sierra Nevada landscape could be caught in a feedback-loop that prevents recovery of former forest."




Destructive Convergence
It appears we have three converging trend lines contributing to the forest succession reported on above. The first being fire suppression, the second being land use, and the third being radical warming changing the composition and character of the seasons.

I'd say the latter third policy is additive to the first two, creating unprecedented fire dangers represented by the unprecedented sizes of, and lengths of the fires and fire seasons we are experiencing today.

Disrupted System
From whichever point you measure the cause of our dysfunctional forests, be it forest management or forest warming, we can clearly see our Sierra Forests are representing disrupted system that needs much better management across all three areas of influence, meaning we've got to directly confront and modify our policies driving long term forest and fire management, of our long term land use, and especially curb our own domestic growth while shutting down the filthy offshore manufacturing centers our domestic growth is driving forward.

Our current system of endless growth is seriously damaging our planet.

Near & Far Reforms
We've got to travel far-afield to address, and stop the degradation of our High Sierra Forests.

Break Time
Essentially, we need to force our never-ending Corporate Growth Machine of Death, "to take a break," to stop growing for long enough to allow both Man and Nature to have a little rest and recovery time...

Time to "Bury the Hachets"
Of Irresponsible Growth & Globalism
We've got to put aside, "endless growth," both domestically and internationally, and seize balance at this very late point in time, if we desire any chance of preserving any of our ancient and traditional ecologies and ecosystems around the world, let alone in that temple of forest and stone, The High Sierra...


High Sierra Forest & Tree
News & Research

Oct 2019
Climate Warming Directly Responsible for 400% Increase in California Fires


March 2019
Forest regeneration failure after Idaho Complex Fire, by Kimberley Davis.
Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forest burned in the 1994 Idaho City Complex Fire on the Boise National Forest in Idaho, and little regeneration has occurred since. Photo by Kimberley Davis:
TWO FACES of FOREST DEATH: Heat Causing Fires and Preventing Forest Regeneration


Feb 2019
Northwestern Forest Succession Underway Under Our Changing Climate


Aug 2018
CEPA Report Shows How Ancient California Ecosystems Destroyed in a Century


Dec 2017
Forests Not Coming Back…
Tree News: Our Forests are Fucked, We've Changed the Environment they need to Thrive


Aug 2017
How Heat is Killing Sierra Forests



Background Research
Trees & Climate

Sept 2019
North American City Climates shifting Hundreds of Miles in One Generation


Sept 2019
Massive Northern Forests at Risk


Sept 2019
Growing into Destruction: The Diminished, and Diminishing Western US Snow Packs


May 2019
2019 Tree Mortality Report: Forest Succession Underway, Continuing Through 2018


Dec 2018
41% Sierra & Rocky Mountains Snow Pack Loss since ‘82


Dec 2018

79% Reduction, from Today’s Reduced Pack, by 2100


Aug 2018
Tree News, Dire Warning for California Plants: Half of You are Dead by 2100


Aug 2018
2018 Tree Mortality Mitigation: Feds To Remove Millions Of Dead-Dying Trees From California’s Forests


Sept 2018
Cal to Ride the Tiger: Climate Change Weather Extremes to Lash California


March 2018
2018 Climate News: Radical Western Snopack Decline, 15 to 30% Average Loss since 1915


Oct 2017
Silence On the Fringe of Declining Forests: Songbird Decline



Southwestern Forests are in Succession as Well

Oct 2019
Southwestern Tree Degradations Continue, Extremes of Weather Killing on Both Wet & Dry Sides


April 2019
Tree News, Widespread Pinyon Pine Mortality Throughout Much of the Southwestern U.S.


Dec 2018
Observing the Decline of the Doomed Forests in the Southwestern US



Plant & Tree News & Reseach, Summer and Fall of 2019

News of Man & Nature, October 2019








Nature News


Climate Destruction News



Bee News

Bear News

Spider Forum

Bird News

Small Mammals

Frogs and Reptiles

Butterfly News


Health and Fitness

Mountain Safety

Mosquito News

Female Trail

High Sierra History


Astro-Phys, Space, & Science News

High Sierra Geology News

Fish, Oceans, & Water News






tree, research, news, High Sierra, Sierra Nevada, severe fires, reducing, forest, regeneration, plant diversity, fire, suppression, land use, global warming, climate change



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