NC Forests Need Prescribed Fire for Regrowth, Restoration
Monday, January 3, 2022
A new year is a time for restoration, and two free downloadable publications from The Nature Conservancy shed light on the role that controlled fire plays in renewing North Carolina's forests.
Experts say thinning trees and setting fires that mimic the natural low-intensity burns that historically reduced forest debris can reduce the risk of more severe and damaging blazes in the future.
Stewardship Manager of The Nature Conservancy's Southern Blue Ridge Program Adam Warwick explained there are major differences between wildfires and controlled burns.
"Burning the woods at low intensity and in controlled fashion and on our terms and when we want," said Warwick.
He said it's urgent that communities get involved in fire management to turn the tide on the significant loss of biodiversity across the state.
The books, "Considerations for Fire and Wildlife in the Southern Blue Ridge" and "Fire Manager's Guide to the Blue Ridge Ecozones" are free and available online. They can help local landowners understand the important role of fire in sustainable land management.
Warick added that whether a landowner wants to increase a certain species, or is interested in restoring habitat for pollinators, a carefully prescribed fire can help.
"These books will help you use fires or other tools to restore biodiversity on your land," said Warwick.
He said controlled fire is also a tool to stave off the effects of climate change, as higher temperatures, drought and the build-up of forest vegetation are expected to lead to more frequent and intense wildfires.
"It's a stewardship, it's a way of living with the land, living with the nature processes," said Warwick, "instead of working against them."
According to The Nature Conservancy, controlled burns reduce the chance of out-of-control wildfires by eliminating shrubs and overgrowth that, if left unattended, can feed wildfires that devastate communities and put firefighters in harm's way.
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