Prescribed burns could make forests more flammable

Prescribed burns could make forests more flammable

From Cosmos (24/1/24)…

Prescribed burns could make forests more flammable

A new review challenges the way  bushfires are controlled in Australia, finding that disturbing natural forests with activities such as logging and prescribed burning, can make them more flammable, not less.

The research, published in the journal Biological Reviews, challenges the notion that broadscale interventions are necessary to manage fire risk in forests. The researchers argue that these interventions are grounded in models that don’t account for the long-term dynamics of the forests.

“We need to be thinking about forestry and fire management in a more holistic way and look to limit actions that could be increasing flammability,” says lead researcher David Lindenmayer, an expert in forest ecology from the Australian National University, ANU.

“We’ve understood for a long time now that logging can make bushfires worse, but it’s only in the last few years that evidence is showing that prescribed burning could be doing the same thing.”

Prescribed burns, also known as hazard reduction burns, are a mitigation tool that uses controlled fire to reduce fuel loads, to minimise the intensity and severity of bushfires. Their science is explored in first episode of the “Debunks” podcast season on bushfires: do hazard reduction burns work?

Logging in a mountain ash forest in Victoria, Australia. Credit: ANU

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