Science offers essential guidance to managing living heritage sites that are subject to increased public use, and that are subject to local, regional and global effects. This presentation summarizes the work of Dan Tormey and the wider Science Advisory Board in advising the management of Giant Sequoia National Monument in California, USA. This work was required by President of the United States and the Science Advisory Board was selected by the US National Academy of Sciences.
Physical change to the Giant Sequoia landscape
- Increased numbers of visitors to the protected areas compress soils near trees and decrease water infiltration
- Facilities cause erosion and sediment deposition
- Livestock grazing
- Fluvial geomorphology
- Water quality degradation
Fire management strategy
- Less water and snow
- Higher temperatures during critical summer
- Colonization by invasive species adapted to pace of change
Effects of air pollution on sequoia habitat
Effect of fires on local air quality
Numerous public perception challenges
Ecological effects of fire suppression
Low intensity fires are necessary for many California tree species to survive. The Giant Sequoia seeds do not open unless there is a low-intensity fire. The fire-dominated ecology necessary to manage the Giant Sequoia was central to the scientific deliberations for the Protected Area. As a result of intentional fire suppression starting in 1900, small trees and shrubs grow much more thickly in California forests. When a fire starts it burns much hotter (high-intensity), reaches canopies of large trees, and does far more damage than before fire suppression began. High-intensity fire is a threat to the survival of the Giant Sequoia in the Monument.
Fire return intervals are increasing
Frequent fire was a common agent of change to mountain forests in California. Before 1900, fires on the landscape always occurred more frequently than 1 per 30 years, and commonly 1 per 15 years. The U.S. Forest Service began a program of fire suppression, greatly reducing the incidence of fire. Fires are now typically less frequent than 1 per 200 years.
The Science Board began its meetings with a recital of its purpose proclaimed by the President: ''To provide scientific guidance during the development of the initial management plan."
The Board stayed within the bounds of objective, scientifically grounded, discourse when rendering its advice. The Giant Sequoia National Monument Scientific Advisory Board developed 27 advisories by unanimous consent.
The 27 issues are ones of broad scientific agreement; remaining areas of controversy were to be resolved by negotiation rather than litigation.
All but one of the Advisories was followed, and established a science-based management program that is still very active.
The Advice to make a stand-alone management plan, rather than refer to numerous separate national and regional plans that already existed at the time of, was not followed. As a result, there was a successful legal challenge, requiring that a\ stand-alone plan be prepared.
The scope of Science Board advice was restricted to the charter in the National Monument Proclamation; this kept discussion focused on key management issues.
The Science Board communicated their results in the form of written advisories delivered immediately after agreement. This provided real-time advice to land managers. Advisories were organized as:
(2) Facts supporting the Issue
(3) Implications for the monument
(4) Advice to land manager
At the start of each meeting, the land managers had to report on how the advice was addressed. Individual Science Board members wrote and circulated specific advisories prior to meetings; this focused discussion to specific advisories. All meetings were public, and held near or in the Monument. This helped with credibility, and provided important local context.