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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Funding Future Forests: Evaluating Ecosystem Services for Forest Restoration in the Tahoe-Central Sierra

Pine trees and mountains around Lake Tahoe

Group Members: Laurel Abowd, Kirsten Hodgson, Brendan McGovern, Teague Tran, Hanna Weyland

Faculty Advisors: Charles Kolstad

Client: Blue Forest Conservation



Final Report

Executive Summary

Final Presentation


Climate change and decades of fire suppression have altered fire dynamics in California’s forests, causing more severe wildfires to erupt with greater frequency. These intense wildfires destroy forests and property, threaten human lives, and damage ecosystem services–natural benefits received from forests. Forest restoration can mitigate the threat of severe wildfires and protect these natural benefits, however, inadequate funding limits the pace and scale of restoration projects. One avenue to increase forest restoration is through private investment. Blue Forest Conservation’s (BFC) Forest Resilience Bond (FRB) aligns the interests of beneficiaries and investors by bringing groups together to finance large-scale restoration projects more efficiently than through public funding alone. Development of new FRBs requires intimate knowledge of local stakeholders’ values and the distribution of ecosystem services across the landscape to motivate stakeholder participation. In this study, organizations in the Tahoe-Central Sierra region were surveyed to better assess their interests in forest restoration, perceptions of ecosystem services, and concerns about future forest disturbances. Focal ecosystem services identified from these conversations were modeled using InVEST and other modeling tools to locate priority areas for restoration to help BFC make a compelling case to fund FRBs. Analysis revealed that northern and central portions of the study region contain high quantities of both ecosystem services and stakeholder interest and should be considered for future FRBs. This study provides a framework for exploring stakeholder perspectives of ecosystem services in a landscape, which can be applied to other locations during the development of future FRBs.


Blue Forest Conservation: Micah Elias, Research Fellow; Dr. Tessa Maurer, Senior Project Scientist; Dr. Phil Saksa, Chief Scientist; Dr. Kim Seipp, Washington State Program Director and Conservation Finance Research Director

Bren School: Dr. Heather Hodges, Postdoctoral Scholar; Jacob Gellman, PhD Student; Dr. Charles D. Kolstad, Distinguished Professor Emeritus; Dr. Ashley Larsen, Assistant Professor; Erin Winslow, PhD Student 

The Nature Conservancy: Angel Hertlset, Sierra Nevada Project Manager; Dr. Kristen Wilson, Senior Scientist

Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions: Megan Layhee, Project Manager (until August 2021); Regine Miller, Executive Director (until September 2021)

Gina Bartlett, West Director, Consensus Building Institute

Dr. Nicholas Povak, Research Ecologist (Post-doc), U.S. Forest Service

Dr. Sarah Di Vittorio, Northern California Program Manager, National Forest Foundation

Anonymous participants involved in the survey and interview process

The DiPaola Foundation

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