Girl Planting seeds

Prescribed burns may introduce new atmospheric toxins

In many of the world's forested regions, wildfires are an unavoidable fact of life. From the forests of Portugal, to the woods of California, to the recent devastation of the Australian bushfires, widespread fires are often a regular, annual concern. Worsening climate conditions only continue to make these fires more prevalent, and more deadly. For researchers, firefighters, and policymakers working to address this problem, the goal is to minimize damage as much as possible—both to the environment, and to the people living nearby. One of the best ways to minimize the probability of large-scale fires is through the use of prescribed burns. Through the natural lifecycle of a forest, tree branches, dried leaves, and other organic debris build up on the forest floor. When wildfires do break out, it is this debris that serves as some of the primary fuel, helping the fires to spread more quickly. By using prescribed burns, forest managers can go into an area and eliminate this organic fuel with smaller, low-temperature fires, so that when the next wildfire starts up, it has less fuel to burn, and can be contained much more easily. But while these burns have been shown to help reduce the physical damage done by the fires themselves, Coty Jen is concerned that using these burns might just be trading one kind of damage for another.  Read more.....



close (X)