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 March 14, 2016

by American Forests

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

Trees Deal With Climate Change Better Than Expected — New York Times
A new study reveals a more hopeful perspective on how forests may be able to withstand rising temperatures more adeptly than previously thought, releasing only 5 percent more carbon dioxide than under normal conditions. Beauty and Balance in the Boreal ... (Read More)

Forest Digest – Week of February 15, 2016

by American Forests
Stand of Trees

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

Saving America’s forests one wooden high-rise at a time — E&E Publishing, LLC
An upcoming project, in which a 12-story high rise in Portland, Ore. will be made primarily of wood, could have an impact on the future of the construction industry in the United States. AMAZON RAIN FOREST AND THE FORESTS OF THE GLOBAL NORTH OF TH... (Read More)

Forest Digest – Week of February 1, 2016

by American Forests
Burnt forest

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

Growing forests gobble up carbon like growing teenagers raiding the fridge — Grist.org
A recent study published in the journal Nature reveals that certain tropical forests regrown after deforestation can absorb more carbon than the original forests. Forests are supposed to help stop climate change. These forests didn’t ... (Read More)