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Environment and Ecology

Conservation

In what way can forest fires be good for the environment?

Wildfires are critical to maintaining the integrity of forest and grassland ecosystems. Forest and grass fires, usually started by lightning, act as an ecologically renewing force by creating necessary conditions for plant germination and continued healthy growth. The primary goal of fire management is to simulate the actual and natural aspects of fire cycles. Fire management also attempts to prevent large catastrophic wildfires from occurring by removing accumulated debris from forests. Seen throughout the American West every summer, these extremely intense fires are caused primarily by decades of fire suppression, which has allowed heavy fuels—accumulated debris—to build up. Ironically, by attempting to prevent natural fires, humans have only increased their prevalence. Only in the past decade have firefighters and scientists realized that nature actually does know best when it comes to maintaining their forests through fire and allowed nature to take its course.



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