Young lodgepole pine flower. Credit: U.S. Forest-Service – Ogden-Archive

Fire can be beneficial to forests and also a catastrophic natural disaster. Many forest ecosystems rely on wildfires, or natural unplanned fires, to remain healthy and help new trees grow. Wildfires remove accumulated deadwood, open areas to plants that require a lot of sunlight and can stimulate seed growth. But, a healthy balance is required to maintain the overall forest health. This is why controlled fires are prescribed by a team of experts for natural resource management. Prescribed fires are an ecologically sound tool to reduce potential destructive wildfires and maintain long-term air quality. Both wildfires and prescribed fires play a role in forest ecosystems, but restoration and protection of these lands are also important.

 

Did you know?

  • Lodgepole pines need the heat produced by wildfires to crack their cones open and release seeds for germination. Without this degree of heat, lodgepole pines would not be able to reproduce.
  • From 2001 to 2012, on average, seven million acres of forest are destroyed by wildfires annually.[1]
  • Nearly 60 percent of all forest fires are caused by humans, according to the ratio of lightning-started versus human-started fires from 2001 to 2012.[1]
  • In 2012, 67,774 fires burned 9,326,238 acres of woodland.[1]

 


References

[1] Lightning vs. human caused fires and acres. http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_lightng.html (accessed June 10, 2013)