Benefits of Prescribed Burning

Prescribed burning (also known as ‘controlled burning’) is an important forest management tool that may be appropriate to use throughout the life cycle of a stand of trees. Some of the more frequent and beneficial uses of prescribed burning are briefly outlined in this leaflet.

Introduction to Prescribed Fire

Naturally occurring fire has shaped Southern ecosystems. It was the major ecological process in the development and dominance of longleaf pine forests, which once covered more than 90 million acres of land in the region. Longleaf pine developed several of its unique characteristics because of naturally occurring fires, started by lightning.

Pine Insects, Diseases, and Wildfire

Potential losses to insect and disease pests and to wildfire are a major concern of the forest landowner and manager. Wildfires bum over one million acres of southern forests each year. While damage by wildfire is sudden and spectacular, it is not nearly as extensive as losses caused by insects and diseases. Losses caused by forest pests in the South exceed 3 billion cubic feet annually.

Prescribed Burning in Alabama Forests

Early settlers in Alabama found that Indians used fire in the virgin pine stands and learned that they too could use fire to improve hunting, to keep down brush for improved access to the forest, and to clear land for farming. Although wildfires can completely destroy timber stands, the deliberate use of fire by professional foresters under controlled conditions can help accomplish several of the objectives of multiple-use forest management. This deliberate use of fire is called “prescribed burning.”

Reforestation of North Carolina’s Pines

The Southern pines may reproduce themselves more successfully in most cases when special efforts are made to encourage regeneration. But first, owners should allow time to begin planning reforestation well in advance of the harvest cut. Such problems as understory vegetation control, site or seedbed preparation, and source of seed or seedlings must all be examined. Either artificial regeneration that involves planting seed or seedlings, or natural regeneration which relies on existing seedlings or seeds may be used. The practice of “letting nature take its course” often results in poor stands of low quality hardwood.

The Pine that Fire Built: Burning Young Longleaf

Prescribed fire can be a useful and relatively inexpensive tool in managing southern pine forests. As increasing acreage is planted with longleaf pine, many landowners are either required to burn their young stands to comply with cost-share programs or wish to burn to achieve various management objectives.

Timing of Prescribed Fire in Longleaf Pine Management: Benefits, Risks, and Roles by Season

Land managers in the Southeast have traditionally set fire to low vegetation in their pine forests every few years, chiefly during the winter months. Recently a variety of ecological considerations has generated interest in burning during the growing season in longleaf pine stands; but many experienced managers have expressed concern about the safety and effectiveness of summer burning. To assist forest managers facing practical decisions about when to conduct burning in their longleaf stands, this publication summarizes many of the principal insights provided to date by scientific research findings on the effects of season of burn on longleaf ecosystems.

Wildlife and Forest Stewardship

Developing forestland to continually produce timber and provide wildlife habitat requires an active management plan. Forest stewardship, the process of managing all of the forest’s natural resources together, enables us to conserve our forest resources, including timber, wildlife, soil, and water. Forestry and wildlife management are not only compatible, they are interrelated. Managing for wildlife habitat can even improve forest productivity. This publication describes the basic concepts of management, showing how forestry operations affect wildlife habitat.

Narrower Topics