Wetland mitigation banks, conservation banks, and many other conservation areas (both public and private) use prescribed burns as a tool to maintain or rehabilitate fire-dependent ecosystems across Florida. The use of prescribed burns is a well-established and effective way to manage natural habitats and minimize the threat of wildfires if conducted using industry standards and protocols set by natural resource agencies, professionals and local authorities.
During fire awareness week in January of 2020, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried commented that: “Prescribed fire is a safe way to apply a natural process, ensuring the health of our natural habitats and protecting Florida’s residents and visitors by reducing the risk of wildfire. These controlled burns reduce life-threatening wildfires, increasing public safety and the safety of our wildland firefighters.” (Florida Forest Service)
According to the Florida Forest Service (FFS), forests have existed in Florida for over 12,000 years with thousands of fires occurring annually. Conservation land managers use prescribed burns to mimick a naturally occurring event that helps sustain ecosystems by promoting seed germination, flowering, regernerating fire adaptive plants and controls many invasive plant species. Fire assists the dynamic balance between vegetative stress and vegetative relief (FFS). Prescribed burns return important nutrients to the soil as well as increase and improve forage quality and quantity for wildlife. Using prescribed fires as a tool also has a great advantage of controlling pest problems that might hinder a forest from being more productive. Needle disease, bark beetle infestations, root rot, spittlebugs, and ticks can be reduced with prescribed burns. Fire can improve access by reducing dead fuels, removing dense understory shrubs, create mosaic openings for tree plantings or natural regeneration of trees. (Long)
Fire is an essential natural agent for maintaining the dynamic ecosystems of Florida and is beneficial to the conservation stewards that aid in restoring and preserving Florida’s natural habitats and important wildlife species. Florida has one of the largest prescribed burning programs in the United States and offers a Prescribed Burn Manager Program which can help train future natural area managers or individual landowners to use prescribed burns safely and responsibly.
For more information concerning prescribed burns, outdoor burning, and forest fires please contact the Florida Forest Service.
(850) 681-5801 Fax
FFS. “The natural role of fire.” 2020. FDACS.gov. web. 12 May 2020.
Florida Forest Service. “Florida forest service highlights the benefits of prescribed fire.” 28 January 2020. morningagclips.com. web. 12 May 2020.
Long, Alan J. Benefits of Prescribed Burning. IFAS Extension UF. Gainesville: University of Florida, 2002. Print.