The Benefits of Prescribed Fire
The Nature Conservancy supports the use of controlled burning to manage landscapes that have adapted over millennia to periodic fire.
Forest fires and prairie fires are a part of nature; they’re both powerful change agents that shape ecosystems. The specific pattern of fire—including how frequently it burns, how hot it burns, and during which season—helps dictate the types of plants and animals found in a given area. This affects the goods and services that these places provide to people, and can have implications for human safety.
Around the world, fires are behaving differently now than they have throughout history, primarily as a result of human actions. In many places, for example, climate change is causing more frequent and more intense wildfires.
Generally speaking, any actions that change the fuel on a landscape will change how fire behaves in that landscape. Grazing, fire suppression, the spread of fire-loving, non-native plants and timber harvesting are some factors that affect fuels. Many fires are set by people (often in order to help secure their livelihoods), and so addressing fire problems almost always requires both socioeconomic and ecological solutions.
Land managers directly affect how and where fires are allowed to burn by managing wildfires and also by setting controlled burns. In places with fire-adapted plants and animals, managers are increasingly using fire as a tool to increase ecosystems’ resilience to the impacts of climate change and other threats, ensuring that natural areas continue to provide clean air and water for people.
Many Conservancy preserves contain plants and animals that require fairly frequent fire. As a result, controlled burning is an important management tool for Conservancy stewards. In the United States, our staff undergoes the same training and follow the same standards as the federal wildland fire agencies. Having conducted more than 1.5 million acres of burning on Conservancy and partner lands since 1988, the Conservancy is a recognized leader in the field of ecological fire management, including controlled burning.
The Nature Conservancy works to maintain fire’s role where it benefits people and nature, and keep fire out of places where it is destructive.
Working with partners, we:
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December 21, 2012