What is the Best Solution for the California Wildfires?
What are the best solutions for the California wildfires? The 2019 wildfires in California were devastating according to the CalFire website, with a total of 6,872 fire incidents, burning more than 253,321 acres or approximately 102,515 hectares over the course of the year.
The ongoing track for 2020 seems to fit in with the madness of the rest of the year, still going at a record breaking pace. As of September 2020, more than 26 times as many acres have been burned in California as were lost in all of 2019 with approximately 3.1 million acres or almost 102,255,000 hectares.
There may be some argument over the cause of this devastation, but there can be no arguing about the detrimental impact to both the environment and humanity. What seems to be lacking is a viable solution. What will be examined in this article is just one possible solution, not only to aid in the return of a healthy environment, but at the same time to provide some much needed assistance to the people of California.
Natural Permacultural Solutions to Natural Problem
Permaculture is largely attributed to the work of Bill Mollison and David Holmgren back in the 1970s, conducted largely in Australia, but spreading around the world. The food forests were (and remain) a very important part of the overall concept of permaculture, but in fact are much more ancient in both design and practice.
One of the prevalent tenets of permaculture is a refusal to interfere with existing ecosystems, selecting instead to work around the current ecological systems already in place. There has been some controversy in terms of the implementation of large-scale food forests given that it may displace some existing ecosystems, in direct contradistinction to the basic principles.
What though, of all these areas that have been completely destroyed by the ongoing fires? There is certainly not an excess of existing wildlife that will be adversely impacted by the creation of large-scale food forests. In fact, it could easily be argued that the creation of large-scale food forests would be every bit as beneficial to the local wildlife as it would for the environment and humanity.
What Are Food Forests?
To understand the full implication of what is being proposed here, it is important to have a basic understanding of the food forests and exactly what they are. The food forests are completely natural, albeit man-made ecological systems that are wholly sustainable. These systems generally take eight to fifteen years to reach full maturity, but will begin producing returns within the first few years of planting.
While there is a substantial amount of work required to create these natural ecosystems, the actual “farming” or workload involved in the maintenance of a fully matured forest is minimal at best. There are many examples of existing food forests that show how effective and easily maintained they may be, but two are of particular interest.
In one case, there is an existing food forest in Vietnam that is purported to be more than 300 years old. The workload and labor requirements for this particular food forest are such that a couple in their eighties were able to maintain the food forest with no need for outside assistance. Imagine a farm that requires a small enough level of work that it can be fully maintained by an elderly couple in their eighties, and that is the reality of matured food forests.
For the second example, there is an existing food forest in Southern Morocco that is estimated to be around two thousand years old. This food forest has outlived the dark ages, the medieval period and into the modern day, very likely seeing decades or even centuries without human intervention. Despite that fact, this forest still produces a large surplus of produce on a regular and continual basis.
If all of the current knowledge and some concerted effort were put forth, these types of solutions would not only introduce viable solutions to existing challenges of ongoing wildfires, but also serve as a public utility of sorts, providing much needed support for the homeless and other impoverished persons in California. How?
What are Large-Scale Food Forest Reforestation Efforts?
There was recently a meeting between Governor Newsom and President Trump in which Governor Newsom admitted “the state could better manage the state’s forests after a century of a damaging policy of total fire suppression” However, it should also be noted that roughly 57% of the forests in California are owned and managed by the federal government through the U.S. Forest Service or federal Bureau of Land Management, so it would be unwise and misleading to lay the onus solely at the feet of the State.
The end result of this meeting in regards to the raging California wildfires was a 20 year commitment to double forest and vegetation management between the State of California and the Federal government within California. It is challenging to imagine a more promising scenario for the implementation of programs such as this that would provide such a huge benefit to both the environment and the people of California.
Are There Government Funded Solutions for the California Wildfires?
The State should not be held accountable for whatever actions may take on federal lands, though there is little doubt that much of the burden will be placed on the tax-paying citizens of California in the event that the federal government fails in its responsibilities. However, roughly 47% of these problems would disappear completely with the implementation of State programs on State controlled lands.
The proposal here is to push to have the reforestation efforts focused on the use of food forests as public utilities of a sort. The benefits would be numerous, including the ability to greatly reduce the frequency and spread of these devastating forest fires. How?
The creation of the food forests would require public support, though it can scarcely be doubted that much of this could be conducted, supported, and even studied and improved through the University of California and its various campuses. There would certainly be a great many more people throughout these woodlands during the rebuilding process, ensuring that any new fires would be quickly spotted and hopefully, just as quickly extinguished.
Are There Private Industry Solutions to the California Wildfires?
While government solutions are more viable for public lands, there is still ample opportunity for private industry to get involved as well. Large swathes of land that have been completely destroyed by these fires are privately owned. Whether a Not-for-profit or even full commercial ventures, private industry can move in and provide solutions that are just as beneficial and meaningful, while at the same time providing more personnel actively on site to constantly monitor these woodlands.
These efforts would continue long after the food forests reached maturity as people would be required to gather portions of the goods produced on these public lands and central facilities would be required to centralize distribution.
When properly planned and implemented, community service centers, permaculture institutes, and other private industries can be made commercially viable, even to the extent that ten to fifteen percent of the workforce can be comprised of formerly marginalized persons without any disruption of labor productivity.
Not only would these provide new jobs, albeit limited in number, but it would increase the number of people able to keep an eye out for fires, including trained security personnel also tasked with guarding the food forests and keeping out intruders.
Foods grown on these public lands can subsequently be used for schools, food banks, or even sold in State markets in order to fund continued operations. No matter what, these lands will have to be reforested. The ability to create more constructive, symbiotically beneficial, and sustainable food forests should not be just a consideration, but an actual goal of any efforts going forward from here.
Let us know what you think please!