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

Wildfires Extend Beyond the Wild in Bastrop, Tex.

by American Forests
Bastrop Complex Fire

By Amelia Loeb, Communications Intern

Wildfires scorch more than just wild vegetation. They extend beyond the forest, where one might go hiking over the weekend, and impact the lives of thousands of people. Climate change and severe weather patterns create conditions favorable for wildfires of increased severity. These fires spread more easily and burn at a higher temperature, with a net result of increased damage t... (Read More)

Forest Digest – Week of November 2, 2015

by American Forests
Burned forest

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

Oldest Tree In The U.K. Is Changing Its Sex, And Scientists Are Shocked — Huffington Post
After what has thought to have been a nearly 5,000 year life, a tree in in Perthshire, Scotland has a new trick up its trunk and is beginning to sprout berries. Conservation groups describe devastation caused by wildfires — USA Today
... (Read More)

Forest Digest – Week of October 26, 2015

by American Forests
Sumatran orangutan

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

Indonesia’s forest fires threaten a third of world’s wild orangutans — The Guardian
Recent satellite images have revealed that, since July, several thousand fires have reached Indonesia’s national parks and primary forests, threatening nearly one-third of the world’s population of wild orangutans, as well as o... (Read More)