CAMERA: Visual assessment of adaptive management preferences in the southern Sierra Nevada

Authors: Jeffrey Jenkins*, University of California - Merced
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Mountain Environments, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: landscape, aesthetics, vulnerability, resilience, adaptive management,
Session Type: Paper


Forests are complex socio-ecological systems vulnerable to both the proximate impacts of exurban development and recreational visitor overuse, and systemic impacts emanating from broader scale climatic change. In the southern Sierra Nevada, increased variability and magnitude of events shaping precipitation, snowpack, and streamflow regimes has exacerbated floods, wildfires, and drought-induced tree mortality. These disturbances have resulted in functional and aesthetic disturbances to the forest’s ecological landscape and socio-economic community leading to more or less resilient outcomes, depending on the strategies employed: passive, restoration, or adaptive management. Collaborative adaptive management between agencies, industry, and the public provides a framework to share information and build consensus for how best to respond to proximate and systemic environmental change. While it remains important to plan for resiliency throughout the forest system, there also must be a recognition and focus on the different type of site-specific approaches needed to confront a variety of ecological, recreational and land use trade-offs. I therefore ask: what type of landscapes do forest users aesthetically prefer, those that are more vulnerable to change or those that are adaptively managed for greater resilience? In this paper I discuss CAMERA: Comparative Adaptive Management and Ecosystem Response Assessment, a photographic public participation GIS of approximately 15 sites designed to visually survey people’s preferences associated with landscapes, resilient or vulnerable. CAMERA utilizes altered site images of water infrastructure, fire-prone forests, working landscapes, meadows, and scenic rivers to test preferences through a multi-decision criteria analysis where participants weight rank-order landscape scenarios for each site.

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