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The Natural Process of Fire | Wildfire Resource Centre

August 22, 2018

The Natural Process of Fire | Wildfire Resource Centre

Wildfires are unpredictable, wild and dangerous. They disrupt the day-to-day for families living close by (and even in other provinces), cause panic, and damage anything that gets in their way.

But did you know that wildfires play a natural role in many ecosystems?

Browse these resources examining the benefits of wildfires, including cleaning the forest floor, providing habitat, killing disease, and creating new generations of species.



Why forests need fires, insects and diseases | Natural Resources Canada

"Fire, the primary change agent in the boreal zone, is as crucial to forest renewal as the sun and rain. Forest fires release valuable nutrients stored in the litter on the forest floor. They open the forest canopy to sunlight, which stimulates new growth. They allow some tree species, like lodgepole and jack pine, to reproduce, opening their cones and freeing their seeds."

Read more.


How forest fires play an essential role in natural life cycles of plants, wildlife 

"The natural process of fire is as essential to many of the world’s ecosystems as sunlight or precipitation, particularly for forests and grasslands, according to Dr. Donald Hagan, assistant professor and forest ecologist at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.

“When fire is eliminated, plant and animal species [can] suffer, and their populations often decline,” Hagan said. “In the absence of fire, forests become much denser, and fuels like leaves, branches and dead trees accumulate.”

Read more.


Forest Fires | The Environmental Literacy Council

"Wildfires are a natural occurrance and serve important ecosystem functions. Forest landscapes are dynamic and change in response to variations in climate and to disturbances from natural sources, such as fires caused by lightning strikes. Many tree species have evolved to take advantage of fire, and periodic burns can contribute to overall forest health. Fires typically move through burning lower branches and clearing dead wood from the forest floor which kick-starts regeneration by providing ideal growing conditions. It also improves floor habitat for many species that prefer relatively open spaces."

Read more.


Why we should let raging wildfires burn | BBC Earth

"...perhaps surprisingly, evolution has adapted the plants and animals in particularly fire-prone ecosystems to cope with the threat – and to rebound vibrantly afterwards."

Read more.


The Benefits of Fire

"Change is important to a healthy forest. Some species of trees and plants are actually fire dependent. They must have fire every 3-25 years in order for life to continue. Some trees have fire resistant bark and cones that require heat to open and release seeds for regeneration."

Read more.

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