Forests that have developed in areas that are naturally prone to fires have mechanisms that allow them to regenerate. While forest fires can be devastating scenes of mayhem and destruction, they can also be a type of natural spring cleaning.
After a while, too much underbrush can accumulate, having a negative effect on forest wildlife.
Forest fires burn away underbrush in the forest. This gives new trees an oportunity to grow. The heat from the fire stimulates seeds to come out of their dormant state to allow them to grow and develop.
Canopy trees have developed their own defenses, such as thick bark like that of a redwood or bark that peels off when ignited to portect the tree trunk like on a eucalyptus. These defenses protect older, mature trees so forest life is still provided with the shelter of the canopy.
Animals in the forest are often aware of the dangers of fire. When they sense a fire, their instincts cause them to run to safety.
Many severe forest fires we see on the news are a result of a lack of fire in previous years. Fire is a natural ecosystem process that favors tree growth in the forest. The most severe fires result from years of fire suppression by humans. While we suppress the natural fires, we let the undergrowth get overgrown and when the overgrown undergrowth ignites, it can ignite the trees resulting in a crown fire (when the tree tops are aflame) .
There are some conifers (needled trees) that need fire in order to reproduce. Their seeds remain in the soil waiting for the heat of the fire to enable them to sprout. They then become primary colonizers after a forest fire.
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