Fire Ecology

Defending Bedrock Environmental Laws and Policies

Fire is a natural force that has shaped the biodiversity of dry forests across the West for millennia. Fire is only catastrophic when it destroys homes or results in loss of life. Unfortunately, fire has been used as an excuse for opening up millions of acres of public lands to unabated logging based on the false premise that logging can prevent future fires and is needed to “restore” forests that have burned. We have chosen to work on fire as a key- stone ecological process because there is much public concern about whether it will increase during a warming climate and whether it is a significant source of CO2 emissions.

For over a decade, Geos Institute has been playing a leadership role in bringing cutting-edge science on the ecological importance of fire featured in top tier science journals, news media reports, and in efforts by partners to defend landmark environmental laws and policies. We continue to develop scientifically sound alternatives that advocate for let-burn policies under safe conditions in the backcountry and fuels reduction near homes and in flammable tree plantations.

Dominick DellaSala on climate change and forest fires in the West

The climate of the West is changing rapidly leading to the potential for more fires in places by the middle of this century. Chief Scientist Dominick DellaSala discusses how thinning a forest away from homes will not protect homes or fire-fighter lives when a fire eventually occurs particularly as fires are driven increasingly by extreme weather events. Living with fire is possible by re-directing fire suppression dollars to helping homeowners reduce their risks of fire. Logging in the backcountry will not help prepare homes or property from fire risks. Listen to the debate.

biomass report thumb

New report shows forest thinning and biomass energy are NOT climate friendly

biomass report thumbForest thinning and use of logging slash and shrubs as fuel for energy production is being championed as clean, renewable energy. Geos Institute scientists Dr. Dominick DellaSala and Marni Koopman say that isn’t so. Read the full report.

Related Articles

 

fire report coexisting with large fires

Ways to Co-exist with Large Fires and Their Ecosystem Benefits

fire report coexisting with large firesThis fire primer is meant for decision makers concerned about forest fires in the American West. Using best science, we address seven fundamental questions related to the ecological importance of large fires and their appropriate management on public lands. Specifically, we examine: (1) what works best for reducing fire risks to homes and firefighters; (2) are large wildland fires an ecological catastrophe as claimed; (3) are fires increasing from historical levels; (4) does forest thinning reduce fire intensity or lower large fire occurrence; (5) how does post-fire logging affect forest rejuvenation and reburn intensity; (6) do insect outbreaks increase fire occurrence or intensity; and (7) how is climate change affecting fire behavior in the West?

fire natures phoenix bookcover

The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires: Nature’s Phoenix

fire natures phoenix bookcoverThe Ecological Importance of High-Severity Fires, presents information on the current paradigm shift in the way people think about wildfire and ecosystems.

While much of the current forest management in fire-adapted ecosystems, especially forests, is focused on fire prevention and suppression, little has been reported on the ecological role of fire, and nothing has been presented on the importance of high-severity fire with regards to the maintenance of native biodiversity and fire-dependent ecosystems and species.

This text fills that void, providing a comprehensive reference for documenting and synthesizing fire’s ecological role.

  • Offers the first reference written on mixed- and high-severity fires and their relevance for biodiversity
  • Contains a broad synthesis of the ecology of mixed- and high-severity fires covering such topics as vegetation, birds, mammals, insects, aquatics, and management actions
  • Explores the conservation vs. public controversy issues around megafires in a rapidly warming world

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