Press release September 27th 2022
CNRA announces tool to Improve Wildfire Resilience with Support from Google.org
New, Open-Source Tool Will Permit Everyone to Evaluate Fire Risks and Remedies
SACRAMENTO, CA – California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) and the USDA Forest Service, along with support from Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, has developed Planscape – a new wildfire resilience planning tool that uses state and federal resilience data to create user-friendly models that will be easily accessible to land planners. A demonstration of Planscape was released today at the California Wildfire & Forest Resilience Task Force.
This new tool will ensure that state, federal and private forest planners have current and sophisticated data at their fingertips allowing them to plan landscape-scale projects in a way that improves wildfire safety while enhancing biodiversity, watershed health, carbon storage and providing other ecological benefits. With a decision support and workflow guide, planners – along with foresters and the public – will have access to the leading forest ecology climate data and scientific models that will make it easier to determine where treatments (such as tree thinning, undergrowth clearing or other action) will be most effective and when and how to treat those areas.
In addition to helping planners, Planscape supports the significant investments that California has made in wildfire resilience:
California recently secured $2.8 billion in funding over three years, including a $25 million investment in better spatial data, ground data and models. Last year’s portion of this investment resulted in 960 new wildfire resilience projects implemented by hundreds of partners throughout the State. This new tool will help ensure that future projects can easily and strategically use the new investments in science and data to deliver multiple ecological and climate benefits, in addition to wildfire safety.
California, along with the USDA Forest Service, has committed to treat at least one million acres per year by 2025. This tool will help ensure those million acres are placed to maximize climate resilience.
“Californians are threatened by worsening wildfires driven by an overheated, unstable climate,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot. “Planscape will leverage science and data to help deliver wildfire resilience projects that protect our communities and natural places.”
Google.org is providing CNRA with a team of Google.org Fellows – Google researchers, designers, product managers, software engineers and other Google employees who are working pro bono with scientists from across the University of California system, the USDA Forest Service, CAL FIRE and CNRA agencies to build the web-based tool.
It is expected that Planscape will be fully functional in early 2023 and will allow planners to define and evaluate landscape scale projects based on climate change models, hundreds of statewide data layers, and a framework employed in the Tahoe Basin that considers 10 key areas of impact, including water security, a community’s ability to adapt to fire, cultural well-being and economic diversity.