Forests, rangelands, and urban forests contribute greatly to the quality of life enjoyed by all Californians. They provide vital resources and services including timber, livestock grazing, water, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and biomass fuels. Many small rural communities rely on these lands for their economic livelihood. However, threats to forest health from catastrophic wildfire, insects, disease and development are increasing due to climate change and population growth. Urban forestry can help mitigate climate change and improve local conditions and quality of life. The Assessment and Strategy documents review major issues facing California’s forests, and describe strategies to foster healthy ecosystems and communities in this era of unprecedented changes.
The plan is also focused on the mitigation and adaptation to the effects on forest ecosystems from climate change. Climate change will exacerbate already critical concerns about future forest health. With projected major rises in temperatures and more uncertain precipitation, forest ecosystems will need to be managed to preserve their fundamental integrity as providers of ecosystem services, wildlife habitat and timber.
Finally, we are working to increase urban forestry programs in communities that would strongly benefit from the increased canopy cover, cooling effects and air quality improvements that trees offer. Much opportunity exists for increasing urban forestry, particularly in interior and warmer cities and towns across the state. In addition to their cooling and shading benefits which improve quality of life, urban forests act as carbon sinks to reduce greenhouse gases.
The primary goals of the California Forest Action Plan are improving forest health and community protection as well as preservation and enhancement of our forests in the face of increased threats from wildfire, disease, insects, and expanding development. Many forests are at high risk of catastrophic fire, due to years of insufficient fuels management. These conditions have also has made California forests more susceptible to insect infestations and disease. And as the largest population state, California continues to face development pressures in desirable forested landscapes.