California Year In Fire Report

A Multi-Dimensional View of Wildfire Impacts

On behalf of CLEE and the Climate and Wildfire Institute (CWI), and with additional support from the Moore Foundation, I am pleased to announce publication of the California Year in Fire Report.  Wildfire and the risk of wildfire impact far more than acres burned.  This Report is an effort to provide a more multi-dimensional view of those impacts, incorporating measures of resilience, public health, and environmental impact.  The Report was conceived of, researched, and written by Leana Weissberg, who is now the California Director of American Forests.  Leana undertook the project at the instigation of CWI when she was a research fellow at CLEE.

This is from Leana’s Introduction to the Report:

A wide variety of wildfire impacts are either not tracked or not reported, limiting our ability to make informed decisions in wildfire mitigation and recovery efforts. Furthermore, this truncated access to essential information and data has the potential to lead us to unsustainable solutions.  For example, if wildfire impacts are judged solely by the area burned each year, a rational approach to reducing annual acreage might be to bolster fire suppression. However, such a narrow view of the problem and potential solutions both minimizes the opportunity to produce a range of social and ecological benefits, and could result in unintended consequences.

In an era of increasingly catastrophic wildfire impacts, with wildland fires that raze human communities, causing destruction, loss, and trauma, a broader-based evaluation of impacts is essential. The broader set of metrics also benefits evaluation and decision-making related to the critical need to restore functional fire to landscapes and build a greater understanding of positive aspects of wildfire. The California’s Year in Fire project advances a framework for a more complete picture of evolving impacts and consequences, and provides more robust data points to inform meaningful solutions.

One thing that the California’s Year in Fire project does not do: establish specific causal connections between management or policy interventions and wildfire impacts. Rather, the goal is to establish reliable and consistent baseline information against which investments and actions may be compared. Over time, we anticipate that the framework and metrics will be iteratively improved and the utility increased, including in the following ways:

  • Add and report metrics within local and regional areas of interest

  • Expand the scope of metrics, especially to better reflect social impacts

  • Conduct statistical analysis to pare down metrics that are statistically related, and to produce more explanatory findings

  • Garner and incorporate feedback from data stewards and subject matter experts, as well as potential end-users

  • Update annually through a public-facing website with a map interface, increasing accessibility and allowing users to easily explore and compare impacts across scales

With the Year in Fire Report, we hope to promote a more rounded and expansive set of measures of impacts and progress around wildfire and risk of wildfire.

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About Ken

Ken is the director of Project Climate at UC Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy, & Environment. He spent eight years as a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brow…

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About Ken

Ken is the director of Project Climate at UC Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy, & Environment. He spent eight years as a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brow…

READ more