REFORESTATION: WESTERN U.S.
Forest regeneration is declining due to climate change, insect infestations, drought, and other human-caused or influenced disturbances. Reforestation efforts aim to boost forest resilience and preserve ecosystems but are limited by the availability and access to native tree seed.
The Reforestation: Western U.S. project sends volunteers into National Forest lands to survey nine conifer species for cone production. These data will inform conifer seed collection and reforestation on lands affected by fire and other disturbances.
In 2023, volunteers for the Reforestation: Western U.S. project are surveying conifer cones in California and Western Montana.
Data That Drives Change
Up to 148 million acres of land in the U.S. could benefit from reforestation. However, the U.S. Forest Service is currently only able to reforest around 20% of National Forest lands that need reforestation, and this gap is widening as more land is affected by wildfires. Availability and access to native seed limit the pace at which these lands can be reforested.
In conifer species, masting is the intermittent production of large cone crops, which contain seeds. These synchronized events are likely driven by weather and other factors during seed development and are difficult to predict. Surveys of visible cone crops in the forest, conducted by trained volunteers, can help meet the demand for seeds and seedlings for reforestation efforts.
Mast Reforestation is a Seattle-based company contracted by government, Indigenous, and private landowners or managers to collect seeds, check seed quality, grow seedlings, and replant trees. The company aims to build an accessible seedbank for the conifer forests of the Western U.S. suited for the anticipated seed migration needs of our changing climate.
In the past two years, Mast Reforestation has collected almost 20,000 bushels of cones and aims to scale those efforts. They need targeted cone collection driven by on-the-ground data about where cones are being produced.
Map coming soon!