Long Term Study on Prescribed Burning in Eastern Forests

A study was recently published in the journal of Forest Ecology and Management that looks at prescribed fire use over 60 years. Scientists monitored control, annual burn, and periodic burn plots in an Oak-Hickory stand in Missouri. Results showed that understory species richness was over three times greater in both burn treatments when compared to the control.

Results from this study support our hypothesis that long-term, repeated prescribed burning can be used to reach Knappseveral objectives related to woodland restoration and management in hardwood ecosystems, including creating a two-layered vertical structure and increasing the abundance, richness, diversity, and evenness of the understory plant community. Although previous studies demonstrated the effects of long-term burning on the structure of pine ecosystems, this study is the first to document similar effects in oak-hickory communities. Silvicultural prescriptions for reaching woodland objectives in hardwood ecosystems often include combinations of thinning and burning to reduce canopy density and increase the herbaceous vegetation response (Peterson et al., 2007; Kinkead et al., 2013; Brose, 2014). Our results suggest that, over long time periods, burning alone can reduce canopy density to create conditions associated with woodlands.

View the article here: Structure and composition of an oak-hickory forest after over 60 years of repeated prescribed burning in Missouri, U.S.A

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Thought Provoking Article from the New York Times

You won’t hear it on your summer hike above the bird song and the soft applause of aspen leaves, but there’s a heresy echoing through America’s woods and wild places. It’s a debate about how we should think about, and treat, our wilderness in the 21st century, one with real implications for the nearly 110 million acres of wild lands that we’ve set aside across the United States.

Fifty years ago this September, Congress passed the Wilderness Act, which created a national system of wilderness areas. Wilderness has been called the “hard green line” for the act’s uncompromising language: Man will leave these places alone. As the law’s drafter and spiritual father, Howard Zahniser, put it, “we should be guardians, not gardeners.”

At 50, however, the Wilderness Act faces a midlife crisis.

We now know that, thanks to climate change, we’ve left no place unmolested and inadvertently put our fingerprints on even the most unpeopled corners of the planet. This reality has pushed respected scientists to advocate what many wilderness partisans past and present would consider……………..

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/opinion/sunday/the-wilderness-act-is-facing-a-midlife-crisis.html?_r=1