Coordination through databases can improve prescribed burning as a conservation tool to promote forest biodiversity

Ambio. 2018 Apr;47(3):298-306. doi: 10.1007/s13280-017-0987-6. Epub 2017 Nov 10.


Prescribed fires are a common nature conservation practice. They are executed by several parties with limited coordination among them, and little consideration for wildfire occurrences and habitat requirements of fire-dependent species. Here, we gathered data on prescribed fires and wildfires in Sweden during 2011-2015 to (i) evaluate the importance and spatial extent of prescribed fires compared to wildfires and (ii) illustrate how a database can be used as a management tool for prescribed fires. We found that on average only 0.006% (prescribed 65%, wildfires 35%) of the Swedish forest burns per year, with 58% of the prescribed fires occurring on clearcuts. Also, both wildfires and prescribed fires seem to be important for the survival of fire-dependent species. A national fire database would simplify coordination and make planning and evaluation of prescribed fires more efficient. We propose an adaptive management strategy to improve the outcome of prescribed fires.

Keywords: Boreal; Fire-dependent species; Forest management; Geranium lanuginosum; Prescribed burning; Stephanopachys substriatus.

MeSH terms

  • Biodiversity*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Ecosystem
  • Fires*
  • Forests*
  • Sweden