2024 William Main Seminar Series: Woody Biomass Utilization in California

Select Tuesdays from 4:00-5:30pm, Spring 2024

Mulford Hall, Room 132

Innovative wood products can support carbon-beneficial, sustainable forest management in California. Their development and deployment can help the state increase the pace and scale of forest management and restoration efforts needed to address the problems of overstocked forests and climate change. Recent bills and agreements put into place by the state will require huge reductions in forest fuels each year. While some of that will be accomplished with prescribed fire, much of it will require mechanical thinning that will generate millions of tons of woody biomass per year.  There are numerous innovative products with sufficient commercial and technical readiness, and potential market share, to justify increased public and private investments in their development. 

This year's William Main Seminar Series will explore wood processing infrastructure, capability and development in California, focusing on topics like assessing the current processing infrastructure in CA, non-traditional timber utilization, small diameter biomass utilization for energy & beyond, expanding small diameter biomass utilization in CA, and barriers to creating new wood industries in CA. Subject matter experts and on-the-ground practitioners will join us on Tuesdays through the end of the 2024 spring semester. 

Flyer with Full Roster of Speakers: 

PDF icon William_Main_Seminar_Roster_of_Speakers.pdf


March 12th | Lindsey Wikstrom, Founding Principal, Mattaforma

Join Lindsey Wikstrom, Founding Partner of Mattaforma, a design and research architecture office based in New York.  Lindsey's work explores the role of mass timber in our built environment and how we might use it to design in non-extractive ways. Her research and work with renewable and reclaimed materials has recently culminated in the MoMA speaker series Material Worlds and her book Designing the Forest and Other Mass Timber Futures (2023), published by Routledge, with foreword by Kenneth Frampton.   

Recommended readings:  
Systems and Things: A Response to Graham Harman and Timothy Morton by Jane Bennett
Returning the Gift by Mark Wigley

Zoom Link:  https://berkeley.zoom.us/j/99340306490

Speaker flyer:  PDF icon 2024_Main_Seminar_Wikstrom_Mass_Timber.pdf


March 19th | Christiana Darlington, Founder and Attorney, CLERE Inc.

Join Christiana Darlington, Attorney at Law, for an in-depth look at California’s bioenergy sector, its role in removing hazardous fuels from our forests, and future opportunities and challenges for this sector with an emphasis on how bioenergy can achieve carbon neutrality.

Zoom Link: https://berkeley.zoom.us/j/99340306490

Speaker Flyer: PDF icon 3-19_Darlington.pdf



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


2023 William Main Seminar Series: Silviculture for Ecological and Alternative Objectives

This year's seminar centers around the concept of silviculture for ecological and alternative objectives, and will explore how the goals of forest management have shifted in the past decade. With forests throughout the US experiencing an extreme disruption from natural disturbance regimes (in the form of wildfire, insect outbreaks, type conversion, mesophication, and more), many landowners have shifted the primary objective of their land management away from timber production to focus more on management that creates a resilient forest that may or may not also produce commercially valuable logs. This seminar will feature both academics and field-based practitioners to investigate the ways in which foresters can utilize novel and traditional silvicultural systems to meet ecological and other alternative objectives. 

May 3rd | Britta Dyer, Senior Director of Landscapes Integration at American Forests

Climate-smart reforestation in California is critical as the state has experienced unprecedented mega-fires in recent years. At the same time, bottlenecks along the reforestation pipeline, such as low stocks in state seed banks and workforce shortages, are inhibiting immediate actions necessary to restore these landscapes and avoid full-type conversion. Collective action and sustained funding across public, private, and tribal forestlands can help remove these bottlenecks. American Forests’ land- scape projects have started to prove this is the case. While this issue has been in the making for some time and climate science is being born and reborn every day – social science can be a key tool in thinking through how we address these issues on a local, regional and national scale.

PDF icon Flyer with all details here.

April 26th | Dr. Andrew Larson, Professor of Forest Ecology University of Montana

Ecologically Based Forest Landscape Management After Wildfire

Post-fire landscapes are the frontline of forest ecosystem change. They represent opportunities to foster conditions that are better adapted to future climate and wildfires with post-fire management. Determining where to deploy post-fire stand-scale management strategies in large, burned landscapes is informed by a post-fire landscape evaluation which integrates geospatial data characterizing the current and future biophysical conditions, including changes caused by wildfire. Use of ecologically based post-fire management principles and landscape evaluations can guide allocation of limited resources across the burned landscape and help shift often contentious debates over salvage harvesting towards a more productive dialogue around how to best adapt landscapes to future conditions.

PDF icon Flyer with all details here.

April 19th | Ryan Stewart, Registered Professional Forester and Senior Manager and Forester for Southern California Edison

Past, Present and Future Forest Management on SCE Lands — Ecological Silviculture in Action

Southern California Edison (SCE) has been using the principles of Ecological Silviculture to manage their 20,000 acres of mixed conifer forest in the southern Sierra Nevada since the 1980s. SCE’s forest management program has included single-tree harvests, strategic tree-thinning and prescribed burning by forward-thinking foresters for nearly four decades. These efforts have restored much of SCE’s forest to pre-European conditions, improved wildlife populations, and, created a forest structure that was resilient even in the face of one of the largest fires in California (Creek Fire). As SCE begins the process of recovery and reforestation on their forestlands, they must consider what ecological silviculture looks like in the 21st Century. How should management change? What new goals and objectives are appropriate in an ever-changing forest and climate?

PDF icon Flyer with all details here.

April 12th | Dr. Miranda Curzon, Assistant Professor of Silviculture and Applied Forest Ecology, Iowa State University

Ecological Silviculture and Climate Adaptation in the Central Hardwoods Region

Dr. Curzon will discuss how land use change, fragmentation, and altered disturbance regimes have negatively impacted oak-hickory forests across the Central Hardwoods Region over the last 170 years. This has led to changes in forest structure, species composition, and wildlife habitat as well as degraded timber quality. Resulting management challenges are compounded by emerging forest health threats and other anticipated stressors. While ecological silviculture has been applied to varying degrees in other regions of the United States for some time, application across the Central Hardwoods region is limited, with little guidance for incorporating adaptive capacity into forest management. Dr. Curzon will examine proposed ecological silviculture systems for Central Hardwoods forests and woodlands, a multi-state collaborative Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) study in the Driftless Area, and overlap between ecological silviculture and climate adaptation in this region.

PDF icon Flyer with all details here.

March 15th | Dr. Brian J Palik, Science Leader for Applied Forest Ecology USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station

Ecological Silviculture: What it is and Why it Matters

Dr. Palik will discuss the beliefs underlying ecological silviculture as a conceptual approach, as well as the global context that has led to its evolution. He will present the foundational ecological principles that distinguish ecological silviculture from timber-focused silviculture, illustrating concepts and application through examples from his work in Great Lakes mixed-pine ecosystems in northern Minnesota.  

PDF icon Flyer with all details here.


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 23rd | 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


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.