Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Experts question aspects of prescribed burning

Date:
February 18, 2011
Source:
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Summary:
Prescribed burning to reduce the hazards of bushfires may do more harm than good in some circumstances, according to a group of leading environmental scientists.

Prescribed burning to reduce the hazards of bushfires may do more harm than good in some circumstances, according to a group of leading environmental scientists.

From The University of Western Australia, Kings Park and Botanic Garden, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England, the scientists argue that deliberately increasing the frequency of fires may lead to ecosystem degradation and loss of biodiversity.

In a paper published this month in Trends in Plant Science, they acknowledge that as climate change increases the combustibility of vegetation, human lives and property are more at risk.

However, they suggest that prescribed burning -- a key practice by most environmental managers -- may cause more problems because, they say, there is actually little evidence that Mediterranean-climate plants such as those found in Australia are fire-adapted.

Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and UWA graduate Professor Stephen Hopper said: "Dealing with fire management is a complex business, especially when the dual aims of protection of life and property and of biodiversity conservation coincide.

"Our analysis reveals that it is naive on present evidence to assume that Australian plants are adapted to fire, and that prescribed burning regimes are not only good for the bush but can be applied in any fashion and frequency with impunity. Rather, we should be cautious in prescribed burning practices if biodiversity conservation is an aim, ensuring that good scientific design and adaptive management are applied to local situations, so that we learn as we go.

"Our paper is a plea for better science and closer working relationships between fire managers and scientists to achieve the best outcomes for biodiversity conservation where that is a priority."

The paper's authors argue that the role of fire in engendering adaptive traits in Mediterranean plants has never been tested.

Traits traditionally regarded as evidence of adaption to fire, including smoke-induced germination, co-occur in ecosystems which are not fire-prone and also stimulate germination in plants such as lettuce and tomatoes, they write.

"Mediterranean climates and their unique ecosystems are only found on five per cent of the land surface of the Earth, yet they contain 20 per cent of the plant species of the world. The effective management and long-term protection of their biodiversity is a priority that is being made increasingly difficult by human population pressures and the as-yet not fully understood impacts of climate change," the authors write.

"Preventing an increase in fire frequency -- instead of prescribed burning -- can be crucial for maintaining soil integrity, water supplies, water quality and biodiversity. Suitable management practices are therefore difficult to predict."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Don Bradshaw, Kingsley W. Dixon, Stephen D. Hopper, Hans Lambers, Shane R. Turner. Little evidence for fire-adapted plant traits in Mediterranean climate regions. Trends in Plant Science, 2011; 16 (2): 69 DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2010.10.007

Cite This Page:

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. "Experts question aspects of prescribed burning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110218111711.htm>.
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. (2011, February 18). Experts question aspects of prescribed burning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110218111711.htm
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. "Experts question aspects of prescribed burning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110218111711.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins