Working Landscapes Adaptation papers

Quick break in the discussion of the Pacific Institute’s ag water report to summarize a couple different papers. The Working Landscapes Sector has put out two adaptation papers, one for forestry, one for agriculture.

The who?
These were written primarily by groups of bureaucrats from the relevant agencies. They are a continuation of the groups that were formed to write the different chapters of the Air Board’s Scoping Plan. These groups were open to the public and email lists compiled from sign-in sheets, but this is mostly the work of government staff, from the Air Board and CALFIRE* and from the California Dept. of and Ag. This is actually a really exciting new development, having state agencies work on papers together. You wouldn’t think it would be a new innovation, but the Governor has informed the agencies that all of our plans must say the same thing! We are quite excited by the prospect. Anyway, it means that rather than having the forest expert over at the Air Board write this paper, the forest expert at the Air Board now writes this paper with people from CALFIRE and anyone else who chooses to attend these meetings.

I do like the name and concept of Working Landscapes. Not the layabout beaches or those frivolous cities. Working landscapes, that produce things but also have some Nature left in them.

The Forestry Adaptation Paper

A nice read. Pages 1-8 give a good overview of the types of problems they expect: less precip, most of it rain, means a longer dry season, means more fires and insect infestations. (I must not be paying attention, because I was a little surprised at the emphasis on insect infestations. I’ll have to worry more about those.) They expect ecosystems to move, possibly rangeland expansion. They explain the concept of resilience, which is showing up more and more in government reports.

Pages 8-10 talk about how to do planning. This stuff appears in a lot of papers and I can’t tell how much it needs to be repeated. Yes. We should do scoping and gather data, come up with strategies and leave room to change them. We should monitor things and decide whether we did a good job. This is all accurate, but it seems self-evident, no? Is it included in all these papers because they have to stand alone when the public comes by to read them? Or is it filler because we don’t know what else to say yet?

Pages 10-13 apply the planning concepts to forests, although they save the specifics for the appendix, and point out that the things they decide to do about forest adaptation will matter to a lot of other sectors as well. They close by saying they need more data, that not everyone agrees on what to do about forests and they don’t have the budget to do what must be done. We’ll see that a lot. I’ll give them props for saying that current laws may prevent them from doing “triage”. I find most reports tend to gloss over the legal setting they work within, forgetting that it may also require change. I also like when reports about climate change use words like “triage”.

The Agriculture Adaptation Paper

The agriculture group apparently does not care about things like overviews or explanations for a broad audience. Keep up, public! Thankfully, this saves us from another description of the planning process. Instead, with no foreplay whatsoever, they go straight into bulleted lists of What To Do. I like their list a good deal.

I started summarizing it for you, but it is hard to further reduce bulleted lists. It does a nice job covering each further subdivision: diversity in ag, water, flood, ag pests, soil carbon. You’ll notice that the theme of money comes up often. Pay farmers, however you can. Get federal monies or pay them to sequester carbon or create markets for new weirdo crops. I don’t know where the truth lies on this, but there are two opposite perceptions of ag. One is that they are rich and exploitative agribusiness that sleep on pillows of hundred dollar bills; the other that they are barely scraping by each year, always on the brink of losing land and utterly unable to pay for new capital or higher wages. Like I said, I don’t know which it is, but we write policies as if it were the latter.

They do not talk about land retirement or saltification, and I notice they don’t talk about succession planning. The average age of a grower in California is 57**. Presumably there’ll be some sort of transformation within 15 to 20 years. That could go into our planning.

Both papers provide bibliographies, in case you burn with the need for more.





*I don’t know why the forestry department is now CALFIRE with the ALL CAPITALS. Oh. Mr. Google says that they changed it to sound catchy, like CalTrans. Whatever. CalTrans doesn’t shout its own name all the time.
**Completely unsourced and unreliable common knowledge.


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One response to “Working Landscapes Adaptation papers

  1. Margie

    As for my department within the state government, I think we still need LOTS of reminders to plan, plan, plan. Sure, we write plans on how to recover species, but we don’t change existing programs to take these plans seriously.
    For example, we have a decades old grants program for fisheries restoration in coastal watersheds. Now, when Coho became a listed species, we wrote a big recovery plan. I haven’t read it, but I suppose it talks about populations in various watersheds and what the problems are for Coho in those watersheds. So don’t you suppose you might start using some (most!) of that grant money to study the top priority watersheds and come up with plans and priorities and get non-profit groups to apply for grants to do this planning and implementation? Nope! We just give people an extra point for saying they are trying to recover Coho. Watershed approach, never heard of it! Assessing hydrology, sediment, temperature before implementing multi-million dollar projects, pshah! We want ACTION and RESULTS, now. I mean, the governor doesn’t do ribbon cuttings for planning reports. So yeah, please go through what planning means in your report. Because, some of us still don’t get it.