We spoke with Cecilia Clavet, The Nature Conservancy’s Senior Policy lead on fire and forests, who shares the back story on this program and the role The Nature Conservancy has played in creating and supporting it.
More Information on CFLR
Download Project Factsheets:
Why is Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) needed?
Our forests are an incredible resource for our lives and livelihoods. Besides just being beautiful, they cover a third of our nation, store and filter half our nation’s water, provide a million jobs, offer a million square miles for recreation, and are home to thousands of American wildlife species.
But our forests need help in order to maintain these benefits for people, water and wildlife. Our nation’s largest forest manager, the USDA Forest Service, estimates nearly half of the forested lands they manage are in need of restoration (a Colorado-sized area), much of which is at immediate risk to unnaturally severe fires.
A century of suppressing natural wildfires has resulted in unhealthy forests choked with small trees and brush that can lead to destructive megafires. Since 2000, more than 10 states have had their largest and most destructive fire in history.
CFLR brings together people from all interests to work with government to address these challenges, and make our forests healthy again.
What role did The Nature Conservancy play in getting CFLR passed?
The Conservancy was involved in crafting this legislation and garnering the support in Congress and from outside partners. Once enacted, we were involved in promoting ideal projects in the selection process. We are also involved in many of the CFLR projects on the ground, working with the agency and partners in improving forest landscapes while reducing megafire risk. We worked on forming a CFLR Coalition made up of groups involved in the projects and other interested groups to work together in supporting the program.
Help me understand the program better—can you give a specific example of a place where CFLR made a difference in restoring forests?
It’s really hard to pick just one! I’ll instead suggest that people take a look at the factsheets for the sites (links on this page), which have five-year work accomplishments and interviews with people from the projects. They’re all pretty impressive!
What happens next for CFLR and The Nature Conservancy Restoring America’s Forests program?
The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program is much more than the sum of the great work being done at the 23 projects sites around the country. This program models how local communities, the best science, and professional collaboration (often led by The Nature Conservancy’s staff), can lead to large-scale projects that improve forest conditions so the many benefits of healthy forests can endure.
We continue to support CFLR by advocating for funding of this program (it has five more years to go) so it can continue to meet and exceed the program’s goals. In fact, we are looking at increasing the authorized funding level to $80 million a year, so more places across our National Forests can also benefit.
Within Restoring America’s Forests we are working to expand and mainstream the lessons learned from CFLR to other federal forest areas and programs, so that all of our nation’s forests can be made healthier for people, water and wildlife.