Controlled Burns and the Environment

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Nicole Buckman
BIO220
March 18, 2013
Meredith Morrissey

Controlled Burns and the Environment

In a forests life, the process of a fire starting and destroying the trees and underbrush in a forest is an important cycle. It helps to improve the life span of the vegetation and animals living in it. With the rise in wildfires all over the country, researchers say that controlled burns will help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Many people think of fire as only being dangerous and destructive to the environment, these beliefs are inaccurate but, not entirely wrong, while fire does destroy things to the eye and pollutes the air; it is also feeding the forest. Although I do not think that the smoke is good for the air, I do however think that the controlled burns are good for the environment in many ways. Fire is a natural resource and forest fires do occur at times simply by nature. When this happens the fire disposes of accumulated debris, it enriches the soil by speeding the nutrient recycle or retard the growth of shrubs or grasses that would otherwise crowd out recently planted seedlings (Yang, 2012). Even though the fire appears to be disastrous, by the following spring, the forest begins new growth. The role that fire plays in shaping ecosystem composition, structure and function includes several ecosystem processes like nutrient cycling, vegetation dynamics, belowground process and soil processes, and water relations. The shaping begins by selecting fire adapted species, and “removing other susceptible species, releasing nutrients from the biomass and improving nutrient cycling, affecting soil properties through changing soil microbial activities and water relations, and creating heterogeneous mosaics, which in turn, can further influence fire behavior and ecological processes” (Chen, 2006, p. 1-2). Despite some of the negatives about fire we must also consider its unique ecological roles within our ecosystem. It is these very reasons why I...
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