This is from an article in The Conversation yesterday, March 6: “The West’s iconic forests are increasingly struggling to recover from wildfires – altering how fires burn could boost their chances.”
Wildfires and severe drought are killing trees at an alarming rate across the West, and forests are struggling to recover as the planet warms. However, new research shows there are ways to improve forests’ chances of recovery – by altering how wildfires burn.
Together, these sites offer an unprecedented look at how forests respond to wildfires and global warming.
Our results are sobering. We found that conifer tree seedlings, such as Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine, are increasingly stressed by high temperatures and dry conditions in sites recovering from wildfires. In some sites, our team didn’t find any seedlings at all. That’s worrying, because whether forests recover after a wildfire depends in large part on whether new seedlings can establish themselves and grow.
However, our team also found that if wildfires burn less intensely, forests will have a better shot at regrowing. Our study, published March 6, 2023, highlights how proactive efforts that modify how wildfires burn can help buffer seedlings from some of the biggest stressors of global warming.
“Reduced fire severity offers near-term buffer to climate-driven declines in conifer resilience across the western United States”