Essay on Effects of Wildfires on Forest Ecosystems

1988 Words 8 Pages
Ecological Restoration of Forests and Fires
One of the most predominate ecosystems is the forest community. Covering about one-fourth of the land area on Earth, forests consist mainly of trees and other woody vegetation, growing closely together. The trees can be large and densely packed, as they are in the coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest, or they can be relatively small and sparsely scattered, as they are in the dry tropical forests of sub-Saharan Africa. Forests are complex ecosystems that also include “soils and decaying organic matter, fungi and bacteria, herbs and shrubs, vines and lichens, ferns and mosses, insects and spiders, reptiles and amphibians, birds and mammals, and many other organisms” (Audesirk, 2003). All of
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There was not a great deal for concern about the changes of the ecosystems of forests. Mature natural forests usually “produced wood at a rate of 14-28 ft, and this often exceeded the rate of harvesting firewood. However, with the adoption of agriculture, humans settled down and their populations increased, placing pressures on forests” (Perry, 1994). Not only did the demand for fuel wood increase, but forests were cut down to make room for agriculture. For example, in 1600 about 49% of the continental United States was covered with forests, but this had been reduced to 33% by 1900. In just 300 years, population pressures reduced forestlands by about 1 million acres. Since natural regeneration was not keeping up with the rate of harvests, the need for rapid reforestation became more apparent.
During the late 1800s, concern was expressed about future wood supplies in the United States due to floods caused by deforestation and fires. Two solutions to these problems were proposed. One resulted in the creation of national forests where wood and clean water could be produced in perpetuity, the other “promoted artificial regeneration, the establishment of trees by planting or direct seeding” (Perry, 1994). Due, in part, to a combination of improved technology in both agricultural and artificial regeneration, the United States now has about the same amount of forestland as

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