Fire Recovery & Community Science- Santa Barbara Botanic Garden & CBI

Apr 23, 2021 (Last modified Aug 22, 2023)
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A System to Help Prioritize Where to Do Habitat and Trail Restoration

Project Description:

Santa Barbara and Ventura wildlands were hit hard in 2017 by the Whittier and Thomas fires. Both erosion and invasive species spread are significant concerns after fires, and making informed decisions about where and how to restore requires knowledge about what areas to prioritize. With the help of over 100 community scientist volunteers, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Conservation Biology Institute mapped invasive species, erosion, and trail damage in the Thomas and Whittier Fire scars. These community observations were combined with GIS data and used in a multicriteria decision modeling system, known as the Environmental Evaluation Modeling System or EEMS, to identify areas at risk of erosion, where invasive species are spreading, and areas in need of restoration to inform future projects. (Note: The EEMS model could have been created without the community science data, so this is not a required step in applying this framework to other regions.)


To see the results as fast as possible open them in EEMSOnline here.

There are many features to this graphical user interface, including being able to click on the boxes to the left to view maps of sub-criteria.

To view them in an interactive map with both the EEMS model and many of the other layers (including views of the observation photographs), open the results in Data Basin here.

The Logic Model Diagram is here.

A short video about using EEMS online is here with an optional follow up here and one about viewing in Data Basin.

Conference symposium about all of this is now posted here. Again, the presentation about the EEMS aspect, including an on-screen demo is here.

Two manuscripts are in preparation, preprint is available upon request.

Field Data Gathering:

This project tracked the observations made by volunteer botanists hiking along trails in the Los Padres National Forest. Observations focused on a suite of invasive plant species, though other observations were welcome. Both the iNaturalist and Anecdata platforms enabled community scientists to upload data to the project directly. (Links are to the project data sites.)

Modeling Methodology

The observations made by community and professional scientists were processed into populations and combined with other data in an EEMS model to highlight the areas on the landscape most in need of restoration efforts.

The draft appendix to the paper(additional details) is available here.

For the slides and the video recording of an interim presentation about halfway through this project, please see:

Gallo, John; Lesage, Josie (2021): Community Science and Stewardship: The Big Picture and an Opportunity. Zoom Presentation. Conservation Biology Institute. and

For more information please contact John Gallo, Ph.D. or Denise Knapp (at SBBG)

Conservation Biology Institute. 2021. Fire Recovery & Community Science- Santa Barbara Botanic Garden & CBI. In: Data Basin. [First published in Data Basin on Apr 23, 2021; Last Modified on Aug 22, 2023; Retrieved on Jul 17, 2024] <>

About the Author

Conservation Biology Institute

We provide advanced conservation science, technology, and planning to empower our partners in solving the world’s critical ecological challenges