2021 William Main Seminar Series: The Intersection of Forestry and Human Health

There is widespread recognition among Californians that past management practices have created forests in an untenable state. Forest health is compromised to the point that immediate, large scale intervention is required. But how do past, present and future management practices impact the health of communities in California? The 2021 William Main Seminar focused on the intersection of forest and human health, examining how management of California’s forests impacts the well being of individuals and communities throughout the state. This year’s series brought practitioners from forestry, academia, NGOs, wildland fire fighting and Tribal communities to Berkeley to share their perspectives on how past, current and future management of California’s forests has impacted the health and wellbeing of its population. Below you can read more about this years speakers and find links to a recording of each webinar.


February 9th | Dr. Beth Rose Middleton Manning, Professor and Chair of Native American Studies at UC Davis, and Chairman Valentin Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band

Forest Health in a Context of Truth and Healing

February 23th | Brandon Smith, Executive Director of the Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program

Emergency Situations Need Proactive Responses: Wildland Firefighting, Incarceration, and the Opportunity to do Better

March 9th | Carlin Starrs, MF,  Senior Modeler for the Risk Analytics Team, Risk Management Solutions

Wildfire and Forest Management from an Insured Property Loss Perspective

March 16th | Dr. Sam Heft-Neal, Research Scholar at the Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University

Managing the Changing Risk and Health Burden of Wildfire Smoke in the US

April 6th | Dr. Jonathan Kusel, Executive Director and Founder, The Sierra Institute

Biomass Utilization and Infrastructure Development: A Pathway to Forest and Community Restoration


About the William Main Seminar and Endowment

The William Main Seminar Series in Forestry and Natural Resources was established in 1986. The program honors its namesake, a graduate of Berkeley's forestry program, and longtime friend of Cal and its forestry program. William Main was, until his death in 1981, a community leader and president of the Main Industries, Inc. in Bieber, California. In 1986 his wife, Berkeley graduate Rocky Main, and the couple's sons, inaugurated the Main lecture series to provide a forum for exploring topical issues in forestry and natural resource management. The Main series has always attracted a diverse group of people. Past series have focused on the Quincy Library Group, conservation of the northern and California spotted owl, impacts of forestry practices on California's Native American communities, as well as discussion of several ballot initiatives on a broad range of natural-resource issues. The Main series provides a rare opportunity for students, both undergraduate and graduate, to ask direct questions of leaders in their field, both in a formal classroom setting and later in the day, over dinner at the Berkeley Faculty Club. This program exists because of the incredible generosity of the Main Family.


Past Seminars

2020 William Main Seminar Series: Opportunities and Challenges of Investing in Global Forest Restoration

 Recent research has identified forest restoration as having great potential to mitigate global climate change, but realizing this potential requires vast areas of suitable land, large sums of capital, and incentives for landowners to invest in forests instead of other land uses. The 2020 William Main Seminar Series examines opportunities and challenges associated with global forest restoration. This year’s series will bring practitioners from the private sector, international organizations, and academia to Berkeley share their perspectives on global forest restoration, with an emphasis on economic, social, and policy aspects.

February 4th | Dr. Clark Binkley, Managing Director, International Forestry Investment Advisors LLC

Mobilizing Institutional Capital for Forest Restoration Investments

February 25th | Dr. Priya Shyamsundar, Lead Economist, The Nature Conservancy

Reforestation as a Natural Climate Solution – Opportunities and Challenges

March 10th | Dr. Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza, Associate Professor of the Practice of Environmental Policy and Management at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

Accounting for More than Carbon: Forest Restoration and Carbon Offsetting in Mexico

March 17th | Sanaz Raczynski, Head of Sustainability, Nuveen Real Estate

Sustainable and Responsible Forest Restoration Investment in the US and Abroad 

April 7th | Dr. Rene Castro, Head of the Climate, Biodiversity, Land, and Water Department, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

We regret to inform you that Dr. Castro's talk has been cancelled.

April 21st | Dr. Urvashi Narain, Lead Environmental Economist, The World Bank

Forest Restoration and Ecosystem Services in Asia


2019 William Main Seminar Series: Fire Science, Policy, and Management in California Wildlands

The 2019 William Main Seminar Series examines the confluence of environmental science, policy and management in contending with the spate of recent fire outbreaks in California.  This year's series will bring subject matter experts, agency leaders, and experienced land managers to Berkeley to speak about their encounters with fire over the course of their careers.  Speakers will discuss the current state of wildland fire management through the lens of their respective fields and expertise. 

Understanding Wildfire Spread through Experiments and Modeling

Mark Finney, USFS Research Forester

Although humans have used fire for about 400,000 years, our basic knowledge of wildfire physics is so meager that we can’t answer the simplest question: “how do wildfires spread?”  Some new experiments offer some insights into physical processes that could greatly improve models for prediction, mitigation, and training. 

Myths and Misassumptions Regarding Parks and Fire

Caryl Hart, Former Director of Sonoma County Regional Parks

"Myths and Misassumptions Regarding Parks and Fire" addresses the impact that public perceptions surrounding parks and fire hazards have had on land conservation, and describe the role parks actually have had in preventing and addressing fire risks. Dr. Hart will present in detail the impacts of the Tubbs fire in Sonoma County on the county’s regional parks system, as well as East Bay Regional Parks’ efforts to address fire risks on its lands.

The 2018 Fire Season in Review

Thom Porter,  Director of CALFIRE 

A reflection upon the 2018 fire season, sharing a general overview of the 2018 season, highlighting the many record breaking fires characterizing this season, examining the challenges faced by CAL FIRE in 2018 and discussing the recovery efforts underway now that fire season is over. 

Wildfires in Western Canada: Causes, Consequences and Coexistence

Lori Daniels, Professor of Forestry and head of the Tree Ring Lab at University of British Columbia

An examination of historical fire regimes in Western British Columbia, and discussion surrounding the research methods and approaches the UBC Tree Ring lab uses to investigate historical fire regimes and present a cross-scale set of solutions to address concerns about smoke impacts on human health.  Due to technical issues during Dr. Daniel's presentation, an audio file is not available. 

The fire problem is a cultural problem—where do we go from here?

Lenya Quinn Davidson, UCANR Area Fire Advisor for Humboldt County

Lenya Quinn Davidson has spent nearly a decade working in fire.  In her presentation, she investigates the impediments to prescribed fire in northern California, explores her understanding of the issues surrounding prescribed fire, and looks at how this understanding has become more nuanced over the last decade.  Lenya discusses her conclusion that the biggest obstacles we face in the West are not operational or regulatory; rather, they are cultural issues, defined by a century-long rift between people and fire, and perpetuated by the professionalization and homogenization of the fire culture.  Lenya also looks at two specific approaches to increase the collective oprerational capacity for prescribed fire and to shift the culture of fire more generally.  Due to technical issues during Lenya's presentation, an audio file is not available.  A PDF of her presentation is available for download here: Quinn-Davidson Main Seminar Presentation.

The Community Wildfire Safety Program

Becky Johnson, Senior Manager – Vegetation Management / Community Wildfire Safety Program, PG&E

Becky Johnson spoke with seminar attendees about PG&E's enhanced and expanded Community Wildfire Safety program - taking a deep dive into the work PG&E is conducting to reduce wildfire risks and keep customers and communities safe in the face of a growing threat of extreme weather and wildfire.