College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

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June 13, 2012

Let It Burn: Prescribed Fires No Danger to Forest Ecology

By Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley Media Relations

Fighting fire with fire has been given the green light by a new study of techniques used to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. And with a rise in wildfires predicted in many parts of the country, researchers say controlled burns and other treatments to manage this risk should be stepped up.

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A prescribed fire in the central Sierra Nevada is set to reduce fuel that could otherwise feed a catastrophic wildfire. (Jason Moghaddas photo)

The paper, published in the June issue of the peer-reviewed journal BioScience, and led by researchers at UC Berkeley, synthesizes 20 years of research throughout the country on the ecological impact of reducing forest wildfire risk through controlled burns and tree thinning. It comes as California braces for a potentially bad fire season, particularly in the southern Sierra where precipitation was half its normal level.

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Climate Change Will Boost Number of West's Wildfires

Reuters, via the New York Times

Climate change will make wildfires in the West, like those now raging in parts of Colorado and New Mexico, more frequent over the next 30 years, researchers reported on Tuesday.

More broadly, almost all of North America and most of Europe will see an increase in wildfires by the year 2100, the scientists wrote in the journal Ecosphere, a publication of the Ecological Society of America.

The U.S. Southwest - Arizona, New Mexico and Texas - is the fastest-warming region of the United States, and this warming trend will worsen droughts, alter growing seasons and increase wildfire risk, the non-profit research organization Climate Central reported.

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June 7, 2012

Fortmann Honored by Rural Sociology Society

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Louise Fortmann, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, has been honored with the 2012 Distinguished Rural Sociologist Award, the highest award bestowed by the Rural Sociological Society on its members.

The Society honored her commitment to scholarship aimed at improving rural livelihoods, mentoring students, and championing participatory natural resource management. Her nomination highlighted more than three decades at the forefront of identifying cutting edge issues in rural sociology, and finding innovative, creative and practical ways to bring them to her teaching, research and on-the-ground interaction with both scholars and rural peoples and communities.

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June 6, 2012

New Pilot Program Builds Problem-Solving Teams Around the World

A new environmental education program bringing the latest research and expertise from the University of California, Berkeley, to the far reaches of the world’s developing countries announced its inaugural call for proposals yesterday (Tuesday, June 5). The program, called “Sustainable Solutions: Teaming Berkeley with Global Practitioners,” is a pilot project intended to bring highly targeted problem-solving workshops to environmental leaders who already have clearly identified issues and strong leadership, but who need support, information and planning at the field level to develop plans of action with achievable and measurable results.

The program, funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, builds on the worldwide network of environmental leaders from the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program (ELP), an annual summer institute held on campus at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources, that brings together environmental leaders from around the world and has produced two Goldman Prize winners.

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ELP co-director Robin Marsh (left) meets with local farmers and technical advisors from the World Food Programme in Azuay Province, Ecuador.

“Our ELP graduates are doing game-changing environmental work around the world and they will be keystones in connecting Berkeley experts with the people and places where we can really make a difference,” said Robin Marsh, co-director of the Beahrs ELP with David Zilberman, a professor of agricultural and resource economics.

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Let It Burn: Prescribed Fires No Danger to Forest Ecology
Climate Change Will Boost Number of West's Wildfires
Fortmann Honored by Rural Sociology Society
New Pilot Program Builds Problem-Solving Teams Around the World

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