Typically, wildland firefighters are supposed to put out fires rather than start them. However, controlled burns can prove beneficial. A controlled burn describes the act of setting prescribed fires. If you’re wondering why people tasked with preventing wildfires would intentionally set blazes in the forest, take a look at this guide on the many benefits of controlled burns.
Fighting Fire With Fire
Whoever said you can’t fight fire with fire obviously wasn’t familiar with the concept of controlled burns. These prescribed blazes can prevent wildfires from occurring. By setting controlled fires in high-risk areas, wildland firefighters can safely reduce the amount of available fuel—such as dead grass, dead trees, fallen tree branches, and thick undergrowth. That way, potential wildfires won’t be able to spread as rapidly since there is much less fuel for them to consume.
Manage Weeds and Other Growth
In addition to preventing disastrous wildfires from occurring, controlled burns can have numerous other benefits for the environment. For example, controlled burns can help manage weeds and other growth. In some ecosystems, a surplus of weeds and low-growing underbrush can keep the forest floor from receiving enough sunlight. By setting prescribed burns, the flames can eliminate detrimental plants and create a healthier ecosystem.
Disease and Insect Control
Controlled burns can benefit the environment by serving as a form of disease and insect control. Like weeds, insects can wreak havoc on the plants and animals in a given area. When it comes to eliminating an outbreak of disease or infestation of insects in a forest, prescribed fire is one of the most effective methods.
Supply Nutrients To Native Plant Species
Supplying nutrients to native plant species is another one of the many benefits of controlled burns. When a forest fire occurs, nutrients stored in the organic matter consumed by the fire are released to the surviving plants for a short period of time. These nutrients then become redistributed throughout the soil profile of the forest. Many species of plants depend on these nutrients to create the soil conditions that they need to grow and thrive.