Greenwire had this story on Feb. 26: “Annual wildfires hurt forests’ carbon retention — study.” The study ($), “Decadal changes in fire frequencies shift tree communities and functional traits, is here.
This is what some of us on Smokey Wire and elsewhere have been saying for years.
Repeated, intense wildfires have damaged forests’ ability to grow fire resistant and store carbon, causing scientists to rethink how to deploy tree-planting efforts after natural disasters.
After 50 years, regions with the most extreme annual fires suffered from a 63% smaller wooded area with almost three-quarters of the individual trees than in regions that never burned, according to the study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
Even in regions with tree species that are well-equipped to withstand frequent burnings, fires over the past couple of decades have often decimated fire-resistant adult trees, while younger saplings haven’t been able to reach maturity.
“After a fire, a small tree has to regrow the biomass that it lost during the fire, which takes time,” said Adam Pellegrini, a co-author of the study and professor at the University of Cambridge. “The more frequent a fire is, the lower probability that the trees can grow fast enough to become resistant.”