The forests of Tahoe are mapped using new technology, which also indicates opportunities for restoration

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  • Wildfires are a constant threat to the Tahoe way of life, and Silicon Valley’s brightest minds are finding ways to protect the Tahoe forests through science and technology.

The latest development is a cloud-based adaptive land management and monitoring system called Land Tender, developed by the nonprofit Vibrant Planet.

Powerful new software uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and satellite technology to map forests, identify potential hazards, and outline high-priority areas for treatment and restoration of Tahoe’s forests.

The software will cover his 1.5 million acres in the Tahoe Basin, making it the largest deployment to date. Land Tender’s goal is for public and private landowners to use it to collectively return to more natural forest structures that are more resilient to climate change and wildfires.

Wolff says having fewer trees in Tahoe’s forests is key to achieving forest resilience.

Allison Wolff, CEO of Vibrant Planet, said:

“There are about 24 million trees in the basin, which is about 12 million too many trees for environmental sustainability,” she said.

Tahoe Fund CEO Amy Berry is working with Vibrant Planet to roll out Land Tender. She explains why it is so important to treat the Tahoe forests with land management techniques such as compulsory burning and felling of small trees.

“What happens when a wildfire runs through and hits this wall of wood… basically it hits a wall of fuel and the fire flares up to the top of the tree and it’s called crowning and these things we’re seeing Create a megafire.” Land Tender can measure environmental benefits up to 30 years in advance and compare different projections depending on the land management practices in place.

By building a more natural forest structure, Wolff says Tahoe his forest can survive climate change.

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