Discover Nature: Prescribed Fire

Mar 14, 2017

Fire plays an important role in all of our lives. To some, memories of campfires bring warm and pleasant feelings, while others remember the horrors of wildfires. This week on Discover Nature, we look at how fire is used as a land management tool.

Managing land with prescribed fire can help maintain the health and diversity of Missouri’s natural communities.
Credit Missouri Department of Conservation

In nature, fire is both beneficial and destructive. And can change a landscape for better or worse. Some fires result in richer plant diversity as burned areas are colonized by plants different than those living in nearby unburned areas.

Although fire kills many plants and animals, it also removes leaf litter and keeps brush from forming dense thickets.

Many animals and plants have lived with fire for thousands of years and have adapted to survive. Fire is an important part of the global carbon cycle, releasing chemicals bound into plants during growth. Carbon is returned to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas, and a variety of mineral nutrients are recycled as ash.

Most of the American landscape has burned at least once during the past few hundred years. Today, carefully controlled burns are helping to restore natural communities such as prairies and glades. Fire has again become a part of the natural landscape.

Learn more about prescribed fire as a land management tool, and find workshops and other information to help you use fire safely with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.