Fire season in Montana. Sometimes, wildfires can be good for the environment!
Forest fires seem like a bad thing. They cause damage and there’s no way they could be good for the environment seeing as how they burn the forest, right? Well not exactly. While forest fires may be bad for humans, they are actually “very good” for the environment says research biologist Barbara Zorn-Arnold.
Yes, fires cause short term damage to ecosystems because of smoke, but in the long-term it benefits the ecosystems. If you think about it, plant life has been around a lot longer than humans have and it’s still here, as are the animals in those ecosystems.
Fires have been happening all throughout history and serve a few different purposes. Fires actually increase plant and animal diversity because they release nutrients into the soil causing a flush of new plant growth.
Many ecosystems actually need fires to restore their balance. There’s even a tree which needs fire to stimulate growth. Fires can also be good to eliminate invasive species’.
We often hear about fires that are “out of control,” and these fires are not very good for the environment. These occur when an area goes too long without a fire and becomes overgrown. The extra brush causes the fire to burn too hot too quickly and kills almost everything in sight.
Many times these out of control fires occur because humans have stopped any fires in that area in the past. Now that scientists know that fires are actually good, there are often intentional controlled fires. Due to budget cuts, however, these burns are just not happening enough. This, combined with drought, is a recipe for disaster in fire-prone regions.