Mimicking Nature's Fire: Restoring Fire-Prone Forests In The West

Island Press
Free sample

In Mimicking Nature's Fire, forest ecologists Stephen Arno and Carl Fiedler present practical solutions to the pervasive problem of deteriorating forest conditions in western North America.
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About the author


Stephen F. Arno, now retired, was research forester with the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. He is co-author of Flames in Our Forest (Island Press, 2002), and has been restoring his family's uneven-aged ponderosa pine forest for more than 30 years.
Carl E. Fiedler is research professor at the University of Montana. He teaches silviculture, conducts research on uneven-aged management, and presents short courses on silviculture, fire, and restoration forestry throughout the West.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Island Press
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Published on
Mar 16, 2005
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Pages
264
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ISBN
9781597266130
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection
Nature / General
Nature / Plants / Trees
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Though seasonally dry tropical forests are equally as important to global biodiversity as tropical rainforests, and are one of the most representative and highly endangered ecosystems in Latin America, knowledge about them remains limited because of the relative paucity of attention paid to them by scientists and researchers and a lack of published information on the subject.

Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests seeks to address this shortcoming by bringing together a range of experts in diverse fields including biology, ecology, biogeography, and biogeochemistry, to review, synthesize, and explain the current state of our collective knowledge on the ecology and conservation of seasonally dry tropical forests.

The book offers a synthetic and cross-disciplinary review of recent work with an expansive scope, including sections on distribution, diversity, ecosystem function, and human impacts. Throughout, contributors emphasize conservation issues, particularly emerging threats and promising solutions, with key chapters on climate change, fragmentation, restoration, ecosystem services, and sustainable use.

Seasonally dry tropical forests are extremely rich in biodiversity, and are seriously threatened. They represent scientific terrain that is poorly explored, and there is an urgent need for increased understanding of the system's basic ecology. Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests represents an important step in bringing together the most current scientific information about this vital ecosystem and disseminating it to the scientific and conservation communities.
Shaped by fire for thousands of years, the forests of the western United States are as adapted to periodic fires as they are to the region's soils and climate. Our widespread practice of ignoring the vital role of fire is costly in both ecological and economic terms, with consequences including the decline of important fire-dependent tree and undergrowth species, increasing density and stagnation of forests, epidemics of insects and diseases, and the high potential for severe wildfires.

Flames in Our Forest explains those problems and presents viable solutions to them. It explores the underlying historical and ecological reasons for the problems associated with our attempts to exclude fire and examines how some of the benefits of natural fire can be restored Chapters consider:

the history of American perceptions and uses of fire in the forest how forest fires burn effects of fire on the soil, water, and air methods for uncovering the history and effects of past fires prescribed fire and fuel treatments for different zones in the landscape

Flames in Our Forest presents a new picture of the role of fire in maintaining forests, describes the options available for restoring the historical effects of fires, and considers the implications of not doing so. It will help readers appreciate the importance of fire in forests and gives a nontechnical overview of the scientific knowledge and tools available for sustaining western forests by mimicking and restoring the effects of natural fire regimes.

A burning mix of diesel fuel and gasoline drips from handheld canisters onto the ground. Slowly a line of fire begins to creep downhill. The flames are well behaved, almost hesitant. This is a backing fire, unlikely to attract media attention unless it escapes, like the disastrous Los Alamos Cerro Grande fire did in 2000. This book explores a century of controversy over prescribed burning--using fire as a tool--and fire suppression. For more than 100 years, America waged an all-out war against wildland fire. Decades of fire suppression caused fuels to build up at alarming levels in our forests, culminating in the increasingly severe, uncontrollable fires of the late 20th century--the fires in Yellowstone, the Oakland Hills, and Los Alamos and the fires in summers of 2000 (the second worst fire season in the nation's history) and 2001.

Looking at these and earlier fires, Carle uses the voices of those who were involved, of those who were early advocates, and of today's proponents to examine the role of controlled burning. Early in the century, Harold Biswell, a pioneer in prescribed burning, dared to commit the heresy of questioning the dogma of fire suppression, despite professional controversy and opprobrium, he and a few other pioneers led the way. Their roles play an integral part in the story told here. In Biswell's words, fire is a natural part of the environment, about as important as rain and sunshine... . We must work more in harmony with nature, not so much against it. Can humanity, this book asks, learn to become a fire-adapted species?

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