Thinning not enough to prevent wildfires
September 11, 2019 -- Alex Syphard spoke with the L.A. Times to explain how wildfire mitigation in California is exceedingly more complex than simply thinning forests.


Alexandra Syphard, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist

Senior research scientist, Alexandra Syphard, was cited extensively in a recent L.A. Times article that focused on evidence for how forest thinning falls short in minimizing the threat of wildfires in California. As with most things involving nature, it turns out that wildfire mitigation in California is much more complex than simply thinning forests. 

Alex conducted one of the few scientific assessments in California on the effectiveness of fuel breaks. From the L.A. Times article, she shares:


“Time and time again in my research, I find that fuel is one of the least important factors when it comes to protecting the home.”


Syphard and other experts argue that other actions are much more important in avoiding loss of life and property due to wildfire. While California is set to spend millions on thinning forests, the more effective measures would be to:

  • Curb development in high fire-risk areas
  • Help home owners take steps to ember-proof their homes
  • Improve enforcement of defensible space regulations. 

*All images below are from the Camp Fire in Paradise, California.


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