Forests & Fire
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.
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.
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.
Visit American Forests’ Action Center to send pre-written letters to Congress and other representatives to support sound wildfire policy. Letters available now include:
- Asking Congress to support the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program, which restores forests and reduces fire risk in U.S. communities.
Forest Fire News from our Loose Leaf blog
by Tacy Lambiase
Over the past week, we’ve been tracking several interesting stories related to forests and trees around the world. From wildfire season predictions to victories over an invasive insect species, here are several stories from the world of trees. An expansion plan sparked some controversy at Arlington Cemetery when it was revealed that almost 900 trees would be cut down to make room for more burial plots. In response, a new plan was recen... (Read More)
by Scott Steen, CEO
A few years ago, American Forests started working on a program that we believed would benefit wildfire-threatened forests and their communities across the country. Along with a number of partners, we fought to make sure this program got the support and funding it deserved. Just a few years into it, we’re already seeing encouraging results, as the threat of mega-fires has been reduced on 612,000 acres. The U.S. Forest Service’s Collabor... (Read More)
by Michelle Werts
Earlier this month at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, over the next few decades — and it doesn’t look pretty. Using NASA satellite data and climate models, scientists estimate that in the next 30-50 years, we will see longer, stronger fire seasons across all regions in the U.S. Why? Because NASA’s climate projection models anticipate drier conditions as the climate changes, and drier conditions mean our grassla... (Read More)