4.4
Forests, fires, permafrost carbon - and recovery

Did you know?
Damaging plants and even killing plants can be good in the long term. Different types of plants regenerate in different ways.
  • By fire (removing dead wood to allow new plants to grow).
  • By pruning (removing dead flowers and dead branches to stimulate new growth.
  • By coppicing (cutting tree trunks to stimulate lots of new stems from the base – used for example to provide thin willow branches for basket work).

Fascinating Facts!
What are the benefits of forest fires?
  • Allows more sunlight into the dark forest to let plants grow.
  • Ash from the burnt trees fertilises the soil.
  • Removes accumulating old dead branches on the ground.
  • Makes room for new trees to grow (in many forests trees remain short even though they are old but start to grow immediately if a gap in the canopy opens up and light gets through).
  • Some species of plants need fire for their lifecycles to continue – e.g. cones of some pine trees have seeds inside which need to be heated to release their seeds.
  • Wildflowers needing light can come back until the forest canopy closes again.
  • Helps increase biodiversity with more small mammals, insects and birds thriving in new open areas (glades) with more forest floor plants to eat.
  • Planned wildfires can prevent further, uncontrolled and worse natural wildfires.
  • After a fire, different types of trees regrown at different rates. There are fast growing trees such as birch and aspen that reach their growth limit quickly like the hare in the Aesop fables. Then there are the slower growing but much taller coniferous species that take over eventually just like the tortoise in the Aesop fables. Eventually the fire returns and everything returns to square 1.
  • Aesop fables. Eventually the fire returns and everything returns to square 1. See section 5.1

Get Active!
Forest Fires Crossword Puzzle
How many Inuit words can you find? Find the words in the box below in the word search.
Across
2
Fires are able to stop _______ species from taking over an ecosystem.
3
Oxygen, fuel and ______ are needed to create a fire.
4
Planned ______ can actually help to not only maintain a forest, but also prevent future wildfires by getting rid of easily flammable dead matter on the forest floor when the dead matter could have caught fire and become uncontrollable if it were left to accumulate.
7
When _____s are destroyed by wildfires, not only does the planet heat up from the heat of the fire, but the carbon that has been stored within them gets released into the atmosphere.
Down
1
Forest fires get rid of many dead plants and trees and can allow more _____ into the forest to let other plants grow.
5
Forest fires can cause erosion of _____ and contribute to water runoff that can severely pollute nearby waterways. This is because trees help to absorb water through their roots.
6
A capsule that holds seeds from some evergreen trees. Some species of trees need fire to continue their lifecycles, for example __________ have seeds inside that need to be heated to release the tree's seeds.