A prescribed burn helps keep a longleaf ecosystem healthy.

A prescribed burn helps keep a longleaf ecosystem healthy. Credit: John Maxwell/USFWS

Forest ecosystems are dynamic and complex. A disturbance to any part of the network can alter the balance of relationships and affect the entire ecosystem either positively or negatively. Fire is unique in that it can be either a beneficial natural process or a devastating catastrophe. For species like lodgepole pine, fire is necessary to help reduce competition and help the species release its seeds. However, climate change, drought and other conditions have caused occurrences of intense wildfire to increase, which can damage forests so badly that it takes years for them to naturally recover. Wildfire is necessary for forests, but also a threat to them, so strong policies and management are imperative to make sure wildfire is working for our forests instead of against them.

Our Strategy

American Forests partners with other organizations to protect the surviving trees on burned lands and to restore forests, educating the public and key decision makers about the importance of these trees. Over the last 10 years, roughly 26 percent of our Global ReLeaf projects have restored forests damaged by fires.

In 2007, ConocoPhillips pledged $2.8 million to fund American Forests’ wildfire restoration project in this area, as part of a carbon offset settlement between the energy company and California Attorney General Jerry Brown. The ongoing Cuyamaca project has laid the groundwork to encourage forest restoration throughout the region.

Credit: The National Guard/ Flickr

Fighting wildfire. Credit: The National Guard

At the federal level, American Forests has long advocated that decision makers in the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior and Congress should address wildfire threats and develop plans and policies for wildfire mitigation and prevention. This resulted in the establishment of the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act (FLAME Act) Coalition, which supported the passage of the FLAME Act that would allow the federal government to enforce funding for larger emergency wildfires without taking away from other important projects.

Take Action

Visit American Forests’ Action Center to send pre-written letters to Congress and other representatives to support sound wildfire policy. Letters available now include:

donate_editto American Forests to support our work, like wildfire restoration projects and wildfire prevention policy action.


Forest Fire News from our Loose Leaf blog

Forest Digest – Week of September 21, 2015

by American Forests

Find out the latest in forestry news in this week’s Forest Digest!

Why Partnerships for Forests are Critical to Achieving the SDGs — Huffington Post
As a result of last year’s New York Declaration on Forests and focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals ahead, to improve forest practices and management it has become evident that a partnership approach must be taken, including both public and private secto... (Read More)

Forest Digest – Week of August 17, 2015

by American Forests
Grand Circus Park

Get some perspective on what’s happening with our forests with this week’s Forest Digest.

Prisoners Who Fight Wildfires in California: An Insider’s Look – The Marshall Project
A Q&A session examines what it’s like to be an inmate firefighter in California, and you might be surprised at what they say. Vacationing in the trees: How forests are helping to grow Michigan’s tourism economy(Read More)

Forest Digest – Week of August 10, 2015

by American Forests

This week’s forest digest has the trends for wildfires and China’s environmental future.

How Megafires are Remaking American Forests – National Geographic
As climate change worsens, fires of a scale never seen before are running rampant across the west, and forests are responding differently than before. APP takes big move to restore forests ahead of profits – Eco-Business
(Read More)