League forest conservation expert Joanna Nelson to aid in developing modern, science-based management plans for California’s largest demonstration forest
Save the Redwoods League welcomes the appointment of Joanna Nelson, PhD, the League’s director of science and conservation planning, to the Jackson Demonstration State Forest Advisory Group (JAG). The JAG provides advice and recommendations on forest management planning and practices at Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF), the largest of California’s demonstration forests. JDSF spans 48,652 acres of coast redwood forest in Mendocino County, a priority region for the League’s conservation efforts.
Nelson’s three-year appointment as the forest conservation expert to the JAG provides an opportunity for the League to help re-examine the role and priorities of a state-owned demonstration forest in the 21st century. Nelson will advise both time-tested and evolving management practices that prioritize ecology and understanding novel ecosystems, Western and Indigenous sciences and forest health among accelerating threats of climate change..
“Recent years have shown us that mature redwood forests hold increasing value as climate resilient carbon stores and habitat corridors, and that conversely, those values face growing threats from wildfires and climate disruption There’s a real need to develop, implement, and monitor management strategies that address these opportunities and challenges,” said Nelson. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on the JAG to formally review current plans and practices and provide guidance to CAL FIRE as they address the emerging threats across the range.”
With this appointment, Nelson will serve as an expert advisor the JAG, which is an advisory body to California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. Nelson will advise on the development of improved, science-based restoration management practices that will enhance the forest’s fire resilience, carbon storage and other ecological and cultural values.
To date, more than 2 million acres of the original coast redwood range (95%) have been logged. Unregulated logging took place across much of JDSF, beginning when it was under private ownership in 1862 and continuing until the state purchased the land in 1947. Since 1949, when the land was designated a demonstration forest, the state has conducted more sustainable harvest operations, research, and opened parts of the forest up for recreation purposes. Today, along with most of California’s redwood forest, JDSF is almost all young, previously harvested forest. However, it is among the most mature of growth, with pockets of old-growth trees remaining.
Save the Redwoods League has worked since 1918 to advance conservation solutions across the range, with a conservation vision for its second century to put 800,000 acres of younger redwood forests on a path toward becoming the old-growth forests of the future.
“At a time when redwoods face many challenges ranging from climate change-driven wildfires and drought to commercial pressures, JDSF can and should be a laboratory and model for science-based, restoration management practices that can be replicated throughout the redwood range,” said Paul Ringgold, chief program officer, Save the Redwoods League. “The activities on this forest can and should be a meaningful guide for how to accelerate the recovery of young redwood forests towards old growth form and function as critical ingredients in the fight against climate change.”