Fire plays an important role in all our lives. To some, memories of campfires bring warm and pleasant feelings, while others remember the horrors of wildfires.
This week on Discover Nature, we look at how fire is used as a land management tool.
In nature, fire can be both beneficial and destructive. Most of America’s landscape has burned at least once in the past few hundred years, and many animals and plants have adapted to live with fire.
Fire removes leaf litter and keeps brush from forming dense thickets. This can result in richer plant diversity compared to nearby, unburned areas.
Fire is also an important part of the global carbon cycle: releasing chemicals bound into plants during growth, returning carbon to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas, and a variety of mineral nutrients to the soil as ash.
Despite decades of active fire suppression, the ecological benefits of fire have returned to favor among conservation land management experts.
Today, carefully controlled burns are again helping to restore natural communities such as prairies, glades, and woodlands, and even help prevent unplanned wildfires by removing dense fuels from the landscape.
Learn more about prescribed fire as a land management tool, and find workshops and other information to help you use fire safely with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.