Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

More frequent fires could aid ecosystems

25.02.2010
With a changing climate there’s a good chance that forest fires in the Pacific Northwest will become larger and more frequent – and according to one expert speaking today at a professional conference, that’s just fine.

The future of fire in this region is difficult to predict, will always be variable, and undoubtedly a part of the future landscape. People should understand, however, that fire is not only inevitable but also a valuable part of forest ecosystems and their management, says John Bailey, an associate professor in the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources and Management at Oregon State University.

Bailey will speak as one of many invited experts at “Forest Health in Oregon: State of the State,” a conference being held at Oregon State University. He describes fire as a force that should be understood, often welcomed, used as appropriate and more frequently incorporated into long-term ecosystem management.

“Forests historically had more fire across much of Oregon, and they would love to have more today,” Bailey said. “Burning is a natural ecosystem process and generally helps restore forest ecosystems. It’s ironic that we spend so much money to stop fire, because we should learn to see fire as more of a partner and not always an enemy.”

Many experts are warning that global warming and drought stress in forests may make them more vulnerable to frequent, larger and hotter fires, Bailey said. That may be true, he added, although future predictions can’t be made with a high degree of certainty, and there will still be a wide amount of variation in the types of fires and acreages burned in various years.

But the more important point, he emphasized, is that even if some of the more dire scenarios are true, they shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a crisis. Frequent fire in Pacific Northwest forests will promote forest composition, structure and function that’s more consistent with how these forests grew historically. Prior to European settlement, fires were significantly more frequent, sometimes were started on purpose and rarely suppressed.

“Right now we’re spending billions of dollars to prevent something that is going to happen sooner or later, whether we try to stop it or not, and something that can assist us in sound land management,” Bailey said. “It may always make sense to put out some fires when they threaten communities, or in other select circumstances.

“But periodic fire has always been a part of our forests, and we need to accept it as such, sort of like how we plan for and accept a very wet winter that comes along now and then,” he said.

Fire regimes vary widely based on fuel loads, topography and weather in the short term, and forces such as fire suppression, forest management and climate changes in the long term, Bailey said. They can be linked to droughts, insect attack and other factors that are all a natural part of the forest. But the key to the future, he said, is accepting the inevitability of fire and learning to manage it as a natural part of the ecosystem.

That may take a substantial culture shift, he conceded, when much of the public and even government agencies have traditional ways of looking at fire and resource loss, consider all forest fire as bad, and even organize large, commercially important systems based around fire suppression.

Much recent research, however, has explored the ways in which fire helps treat fuel loading issues within stands and across landscapes; reduces competition for moisture and nutrients; develops complex forest structure; helps maintain the health of surviving trees and leaves them better able to resist disease and insect attack; and sometimes sets the stage for forest renewal.

Most burned area within the majority of Oregon fires are not stand-replacement situations, researchers have found. Their structure varies after a fire, usually as a result of pre-fire variability in the fuels, weather fluctuations and sometimes suppression activities. But proactive fuel management can lower the importance of suppression efforts.

“The move to new viewpoints could not only help benefit our forests, but save a lot of money and be quite exciting for exploring the natural role of fire in our state,” Bailey says. “We’ve had a wide range of forest conditions in the past and, despite whatever climate change may bring, we’ll have a wide range in the future. And fire will be a part of it.”

The professional conference is exploring issues in Oregon forest health, current forest conditions, recent research, and management approaches for the future. It’s being held Feb. 24-25 at the LaSells Stewart Center on the OSU campus, hosted by the OSU College of Forestry and Forestry Extension.

About the OSU College of Forestry: For a century, the College of Forestry has been a world class center of teaching, learning and research. It offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs in sustaining ecosystems, managing forests and manufacturing wood products; conducts basic and applied research on the nature and use of forests; and operates 14,000 acres of college forests.

John Bailey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.oregonstate.edu

Further reports about: Forestry OSU Oregon Pacific coral forest ecosystem

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>