Literature review on fire as a tool for forest management.
Over the past years “the view has developed that forest fires, as they occur today, are natural events which are good for forests, animals and everyone in general” according to (Caldararo , 2001). Fire is also an important disturbance agent in many forests worldwide, shaping ecosystem patterns and processes ( Shafiei et al, 2010).
According to Sweeney, 1956 and Komarek, 1964, 1974 claims that based on biological evidences forest will grow back after fires and for some species of trees and grasses they depend on fire to regenerate themselves as cited in (Caladararo , 2001).
According to Nurse et al (1994) the people of Kilum area of Cameroon use fire as a management tool at end of dry season to encourage new grass growth and to control parasites as cited in Jackson et al. It is also used as pest management as burning reduces insects like black flies and mosquito, rodents and also kills mistletoes that invaded mesquite and oak trees (Jackson et al) and the brownspot diseases that weakens and kill longleaf pine seedlings are eventually treated with fires to eliminate the diseases needles without killing the seedlings (Wade et al). Jackson et al also states that fires are also used to keep away the enemies from their hiding places.
Fire also helps in opening of locked up nutrients in the biomass, breaks the dormancy period of seeds and buds of several species, and develop the growth of herbaceous vegetation (Semwal et al, 1996). The Sumbawa grassland in Indonesia fires are set annually and restore forest with grassland and create good situation for the grazing animals and maintain the population of wild herbivores at higher level. Therefore, ultimately brings benefit to the local hunters and biodiversity as well (Jackson). According to Jamtsho, 1996 the migratory cattle herders of the eastern part of Bhutan often burned forest especially the chir pine forest and alpine meadows, to bring up fresh grass growth for fodder and control the invasion of shrubby understory species as cited in ( Kinnel, 2000).
In the middle hills and lowlands in Nepal as stated by Schmidt-Vogt (1989) fire is widely used by the local communities to encourage grass regeneration for livestock. He further stated that fire played an important factor in re-establishment of the mixed forest from pure rhododendron as cited in Jackson. Therefore he concluded that the fire is an important factor in shaping of forest ecosystem and the practice of indigenous burning is said to be extremely important.
According to Wade and Lundsford (1990) prescribed burning is a tool in forest Resource management by reduction of dangerous combustible fuels, opening of sites for seedling and plantation, making better wildlife habitats and control pests and diseases. In absence of such fires, there would be huge accumulation of forest materials and leads to serious threat from wildfire to all forest resources (Wade et al). He also claims that prescribe burning creates an open stand and enhances the number and visibility of flowering plants thus bring recreational and aesthetic values.
By reducing the forest fuels through prescribe burning it prevents wildfire and induces pine regeneration and promotes the growth of survival seedlings (Darabant et al., 2012). He further added that in Chirpine forest with Lemon grass understory, fire helps in increase in essential oil from fresh lemon grass shoots and also increases in cone production. In eastern regions of Bhutan fire are proceeded to improve the quality and yield of lemon grass according to Kinnel, 2000).
Fire performs unique purpose which other tools cannot by providing nutrients to the plants by removing dead vegetations by converting in to ash, smoke and steam despite such disturbances like logging, burn hogging and herbicide application which creates good condition for many species and managing vegetation (Simmons). Fire has also have effects on soil organic matters, physical properties and soil biota depending on its severity and return interval. It was observed that in low intensity fire combustion of litter and soil organic matters increase the plant available nutrients thus resulting in vigor growth of plants (Berma, S and jayakumar.S, 2012).
Fire also helps in maintaining of wildlife habitat by creating open space and favoring those species which requires open space. Fire also enhances the habitat preferences for the several endanger species such as Florida panther, the gopher tortoise, the indigo snake and the red-cockaded woodpecker (Wade et al).
Prescribed burning is also applied in National Wildlife Refuge (USA) by Ecologist to restore the habitat of the Mississippi heron (Gruscanadensiapulla) the species which is in danger of extinct. These birds require open grassland to nest and sleep. Burning has also shown some benefit to other migratory birds that spend in winter in the delta of the Mississippi river of the wildlife refuges (National Wetlands Research Center, 2000).
Caldararo, N. (Human ecological intervention and the role of forest fires in human ecology). San Franciso State, Department of Anthropology, 1600 Holly Ave, San Franciso, CA SF 94132-4155, USA.
Darabant,A,.Rai, PB, and Dorji( 2012). (Fire as a land management tool in Chir Pine forest with Lemmon Grass understory.) RNR RDC Jakar Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture & Forests.
Jackson, W.J and Moore, P.F. (The Role of Indigenous use of Fire in Forest Management and Conservation).
Kinnel, Mc (2000). Forest Fire management in Bhutan. Thimphu. National Wetlands Research Center. 2000. Fire ecology en the Southeastern United States. U. S. Geological Survey. Lafayette, Louisiana.
Shafiei, A.B., Akarinia, M., Jalali, G., & Hosseini, M. (2010). Forest fire effects in beech dominated mountain forest of Iran. Forest Ecology and Management. Iran.
Semwal, R.L and Mehta J. P (1996).(Ecology of forest fire in Chir pine (Pinus roxburgii Sarg.) forest of Garhwal Himalaya).
Simmon, T. (Habitat Management Tools: Using Prescribe Fire to Manage Habitats in the Northeast). Mass Wildlife, Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Rabbit Hill Road, Westoro, Ma 01581.
Verma, S and Jayakumar. S, 2012. Impact of forest fire on physical, chemical properties of soil; A review.
Wade,D.D & Ludsford. J (Forest Fire as a forest management tool: Prescribed burning in the southern United States.