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

The Important Relationship between Forests and Fire

by American Forests
Controlled burn

By Shandra Furtado, Communications Intern

Fire: the ultimate debate between friend and foe. Our use of fire is what makes us human, while its power of destruction drives our fears.

Since the beginning, we have had a natural urge to control and dominate fire. In the past century, however, the suppression of low-intensity natural forest fire has disturbed natural systems and allowed high-intensity megafires to... (Read More)

Forest Digest – Week of March 28, 2016

by American Forests
Elements of Forests

Find out the latest in forestry news in this week’s Forest Digest! Each article corresponds to one of the elements —Earth, air, fire and water — in our “Elements of Forests” Earth Month campaign and why #WeNeedForests.

Fire: Record Wildfire Comes to Kansas, as Do Lifesaving Neighbors — New York Times
The largest wildfire recorded in Kansas history has swept across the state, and neighbors are stepping in... (Read More)

Forest Digest – Week of March 21, 2016

by American Forests
Rocky Mountains.

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

Esri and USDA Forest Service Introduce Interactive Trove of Maps — Businesswire.com
In a display of successful private-public partnership, Esri and the USDA Forest Service have made available the Engagement Portfolio, which allows a broad spectrum of people to access a gallery of maps and applications of forestry date. Drought alters ... (Read More)