Before we begin, let’s establish some rules. Generally, prescribed burning is done in pine stands. The reason is that hardwood bark can be thin and is not a good insulator against heat build-up during a fire. Fire can damage the hardwood tree making it more susceptible to fungi and rot.
Most of the southern pines do great in a fire ecosystem. The bark is thick and the tree is a natural invader of open areas, like those caused by fire or fallow fields.
Now, let’s carefully examine the pictures:
Believe it or not, these trees are the same age; they are separated by a fence. One owner elected to burn his property, while the other chose not to do so. Burning will actually put money in your pocket. In fact, the trees are bigger on the site that was burned.
The fire helps eliminate the herbaceous and woody competition on the site; therefore more water, nutrients, and sunlight are available to the trees. Another benefit of prescribed burning is visibility and accessibility. A forester cruising the timber needs good visibility. Whether he is using fixed radius plots or variable radius plots, he has to see the trees. Foresters can miss a tree during a cruise if the undergrowth is thick.
There is a minimal cost for conducting a control burn. The Georgia Forestry Commission said most of the fires they conduct cost the landowner between $12 and $17 per acre. In most cases, the LARGER the tract, the CHEAPER the burn!
Burning is a win-win situation and there are very few reasons not to burn. It helps keep a forest healthy.
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