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Design and Governance of Multiparty Monitoring under the USDA Forest Service's Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program

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Abstract:

Project-level monitoring is a necessary component of forest restoration and has historically been neglected. The 2009 Forest Landscape Restoration Act, which created the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), authorizes funding for collaboratively designed restoration projects on US National Forests. It is the only statute requiring that the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service conduct project-level monitoring, specifically requiring collaboratively designed and implemented multiparty monitoring for 15 years after a CFLRP project begins. We conducted research to understand the design of these monitoring programs, their purposes, and their associated governance structures. Our goal was to investigate how this innovative aspect of the CFLRP is proceeding in the early years of the program and to set the stage for longitudinal research on this aspect of the CFLRP. We conducted and systematically analyzed semistructured interviews with 45 participants, including federal and nonfederal partners, from the first 10 CFLRP projects. We found that monitoring programs are being designed for a variety of purposes, such as tracking ecological impacts, maintaining trust with stakeholders, supporting “adaptive” planning documents meant to cover multiple years of treatment, and “telling the story” of these projects in terms of social and economic impacts to communities. Governance structures include formal roles and responsibilities for participants but lack formal processes for incorporating monitoring data into long-term project planning. Major challenges relate to the timing requirements of the CFLRP legislation, a lack of capacity among all parties in terms of time and expertise, navigation of the distinction between research and monitoring, and the design of adaptive planning documents to cover activities for multiple years over large landscapes.

Keywords: adaptive management; collaboration; forest planning; monitoring; restoration

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5849/jof.13-070

Publication date: March 6, 2014

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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