Fire Ecology isn’t a topic many of us are really familiar with, but essentially it came about in the early 1900’s when US Researchers came up with the idea that wildfires may actually have some benefits. Their stance was that fires were essential to plants, trees, and other wildlife – and they were right. The effects of a fire can actually help to promote tree growth!
How can promote tree growth?
Following this group of researchers, studies began on the benefits, and these studies proved that small fires could clear the forest floor and allow sunlight to get through and nourish the soil, which helps to stimulate new growth. Just like getting a haircut, fire can wipe away old, stagnant trees and plants, and allow the Earth to grow new ones. Nature has it’s own incredible way of looking after itself, and wildfires are simply one of the ways it does so. Furthermore, the fire not only promotes regrowth, it also promotes new growth, allowing other species of trees and plants the room to plant their roots, and make our forests more diverse.
Of course, large and uncontrolled fires have less of a positive effect on trees. However, the small, controlled burns you often see happening around summertime are done because of the research and studies that began with that small group of researchers in the 1900’s. Not to mention they also prevent the big fires from happening! The small and slow burning reduces the fuel load in the forest, making large fires less severe and widespread.
So while wildfires may seem like the destruction of nature and nothing but negative consequences, the truth is that they are really the same as getting a haircut. They’re trimming the dead and unhealthy trees and plants of the forest, and letting new and healthy flora grow and flourish.
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