A certain amount of fire is needed for forest ecosystems. Fire creates nutrient rich ash which helps nurture seeds in the soil. Some plants have also evolved to be completely dependent on fire, such as California’s red wood trees.
Controlled burning stimulates the germination of some desirable forest trees, thus renewing the forest. Some seeds, such as sequoia, remain dormant until fire breaks down the seed coating.
As underbrush grows in a forest, more and more nutrients are tied up in those plants, which must die and decompose before the nutrients return to the soil. A controlled burn accelerates that process, returning nutrients to the soil.
The other major argument for controlled burns is that they greatly reduce the risk of unnaturally large and intense forest fires by burning away some of the fuel. If a forest is protected from all fires, dead, dry underbrush builds up unnaturally until any fire that starts will be larger and more dangerous.
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