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

Coordination Through Databases Can Improve Prescribed Burning as a Conservation Tool to Promote Forest Biodiversity

Free PMC article

Coordination Through Databases Can Improve Prescribed Burning as a Conservation Tool to Promote Forest Biodiversity

Ellinor Ramberg et al. Ambio. .
Free PMC article


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.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
a Prescribed fires executed by forest companies and county boards during 2011–2015 in Sweden. b Wildfires (≥ 0.5 ha) registered by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency during 2011–2015
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
a Reported finds of Geranium lanuginosum between 1900 and 2015 in relation to wildfires and prescribed fires during 2011–2015 in Sweden. b Reported finds of Stephanopachys substriatus between 2005 and 2015 in relation to wildfires and prescribed fires during 2011–2015 in Sweden
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Conceptual diagram illustrating how databases can be incorporated in a management scheme to conduct prescribed fires based on a set of forest management and conservation objectives. The triangle illustrates how the forest landscape suitable for prescribed burning decreases as constraints are applied. With an informed assessment through databases, the final set of possible sites should be a cost-effective implementation that is more likely to reach the objectives. A feedback loop ensures an adaptive process responding to changes in incoming data and the need to change objectives due to limitations of suitable sites. See text also

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