Is Wildland Fire An Ecological Catastrophe? Perspectives On Post-fire Ecology | 9543
Journal of Marine Science: Research & Development
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The media and many forest managers often depict wildland fires as catastrophic events, and politicians routinely refer to post-
fire landscapes as ?moonscapes? in need of post-fire logging and replanting to ?restore? them. However, most fires produce
important wildlife habitat and many species and ecosystem processes depend on the rejuvenating properties of fire. Some species
are dependent on large post-fire ?snag forests,? such as the Black-backed Woodpecker, which is now under consideration for
listing under the Endangered Species Act due to insufficient post-fire habitat. At the same time, recent research has found that
other species more commonly associated with green tree areas, such as the federally threatened spotted owl, also benefit from
habitat created by fires of mixed severity. In this talk, I will explore several key questions related to the ecosystem benefits of fire:
Do ecologists view fires the same way forest managers do in terms of ?catastrophic? effects; Is wildland fire on the increase as
presumed and if so what does it mean ecologically; What are key ecosystem benefits of fire; and how should post-fire lands be
managed for fire-related ecosystem benefits? I will use examples from research on fire ecology in the western USA to demonstrate
the importance of fire as nature?s architect and why it needs to be viewed through a different lens ecologically.
DellaSala is Chief Scientist of the Geos Institute and President of the Society for Conservation Biology, North America. He is an internationally
renowned author of >150 papers on forest and fire ecology, conservation biology, endangered species management, and landscape ecology. He has
appeared in National Geographic; Science Digest, Science, Time, Terrain, Audubon, and National Wildlife magazines; High Country News; NY and
LA Times; USA Today, Jim Lehrer News Hour, CNN, MSNBC, and several PBS documentaries. His book ?Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the
World: Ecology and Conservation? (Island Press) received an academic excellence award in 2012 from Choice magazines.
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