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 June 22, 2015

by American Forests
Wildfire raging across a California forest

See Australia’s plans for Urban Forests and stay informed on California’s wildfires in this week’s Forest Digest!

Urban forest creation guide unveiled in Melbourne in bid to increase Australia’s green spaces – CBS Australia
Melbourne’s city council released a guide to urban forestry in Australia as part of a Victorian government-backed campaign to increase green spaces in c... (Read More)

GR25: Replanting after the Hayman Fire

by Megan Higgs
The Hayman wildfire burns in the distance.

As many in the western U.S. begin to brace themselves for the upcoming fire season, we are reminded of a gargantuan wildfire that recently had its 13-year anniversary.

On June 8, 2002, the human-caused Hayman Fire broke out 95 miles southwest of Denver. Allegedly ignited from a small, burning letter, and aided by a longstanding drought, the fire grew to unprecedented proportions, eventually engulfing four counties. In the wake of th... (Read More)

Forest Digest — Week of June 1, 2015

by American Forests
American Forests has coordinated restoration projects in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, which is plagued by habitat fragmentation mainly caused by deforestation. Photo credit: Barbara Eckstein.

It’s June’s first Forest Digest and we’ve got quite the line-up!

How Europe’s climate policies led to more U.S. trees being cut down — The Washington Post
In a new analysis released June 2, researchers are casting doubt on a key argument used to justify the cutting of Southern forests to make fuel for European power plants. Scientists found that Europe’s use wood pellets coul... (Read More)