UC Receives Packard Grant to Study Coastal Oak Ecosystems
Several months ago, the UC Natural Reserve System (NRS) received a $263,600 grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to develop the framework for a long-term research, monitoring, and training program to restore and manage California’s threatened coastal oak ecosystems.
More than 3 million acres of California’s oak woodland and grassland ecosystems are considered to be at risk. These ecosystems are in decline biologically and are also being lost to residential and agricultural development. Studies have shown that even on undeveloped lands, some oaks are failing to regenerate adequately, raising concerns about the long-term sustainability of these systems. In fact, in some areas in coastal California, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find blue oaks and valley oaks that are less than 75 years old.
This grant from the Packard Foundation is supporting an extensive nine-month planning effort by leading UC environmental field scientists and personnel at the UC Berkeley, Davis, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz campuses. An interdisciplinary team of experts is assessing the current state of scientific knowledge of California foothill woodland and grassland ecosystems. They are also identifying suitable sites—both NRS reserves and non-UC sites—where research, monitoring, and training programs can be conducted over the next 10 years. Relationships are being developed with partner organizations and individuals to create and analyze mechanisms for applying the results of the research, disseminating data, and eliciting user feedback. In addition, parallel social science research will be performed to inform policy decisions and management strategies for these ecosystems.
The funding comes from the Packard Foundation’s Conserving California Landscapes Initiative. “The award demonstrates the Foundation’s under-standing that preserving open space is only the beginning of saving the biological diversity of oak woodlands, and that informed stewardship and scientifically sound management and monitoring are also needed,” said UC Santa Barbara environmental scientist Frank Davis, the project’s principal investigator.
The Marine Science Institute at UC Santa Barbara will administer this grant. Core participants include, from UC Santa Bar-bara, Claudia Tyler and Jim Reichman, director of the National Institute of Ecological Analysis and Synthesis; from UC Berkeley, Carla D’Antonio and Mark Stromberg, Jamie Bartolome and Doug McCreary; from UC Santa Cruz, Daniel Press and John Thompson; from UC Davis, Susan Harrison and Kevin Rice; from the Nature Conservancy of California, Sanjayan Muttulingam; from the UC Office of the President, Alexander Glazer, director of the Natural Reserve System. The Integrated Hardwood Range Manage-ment Program (IHRMP) was recently added as a cooperator to take the lead in developing the education and outreach component. The IHRMP will assist in identifying local cooperators and preparing a detailed strategy of disseminating research findings and management recommendations to owners and managers of coastal oak woodlands, as well as to other interested clientele. The IHRMP expects to utilize a wide range of outreach approaches including direct landowner contacts, training sessions and field days, newsletters and other mass media, brochures, and the web. Initial information about this project will soon be posted on the IHRMP website. If you are interested in learning more about this project, or providing comments about the strategy and approach planned, please see http://danr.ucop.edu/ihrmp/ihrmp.html and reply to the contact listed.
prepared and edited by Adina Merenlender and Emily Heaton