5200 N Lake Rd, Merced, CA 95343

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   Wildfires in the Western U.S. have been on the rise in recent years. Forest restoration involving fuels treatments has been recognized as an effective way to mitigate catastrophic wildfire and restore the health and resilience of forests. However, the pace and scale of the restoration activities are far below the demand due to insufficient funding and capacity. To address this challenge, we developed valuation tools using state-of-the-science data to value multiple benefits of forest restoration across the Sierra Nevada. Two water-related benefits, enhancing hydropower and water supply, are a result of lower forest water use and greater potential runoff following forest thinning. Four additional benefits are associated with reducing the probability and projected severity of wildfire: carbon storage, timber provisioning, erosion regulation, and air-quality regulation. The results demonstrate the great potential for forest restoration in the Sierra Nevada, with overall monetized benefits in the tens of thousands of dollars per hectare, much higher than the costs, benefiting both private and public sectors. The evaluation and optimization of projects using these monetized benefits can inform the decision of restoration activities by incorporating a suite of stakeholders in sharing project costs and repaying investors when environmental and social benefits are realized. Expanding funding sources helps accelerate the pace and scale of forest restoration, thereby achieving the goal of restoring forest sustainability and improving the well-being of local communities. 

   Han Guo is a Ph.D. candidate in the Environmental Systems graduate group at the University of California Merced. He received his B.E. from Tsinghua University and M.E. from Northwestern University. He joined ES in 2019 with his research on ecosystem services and natural infrastructure.

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