I envision a future where we support prescribed fires as a preventative measure to manage forest fire intensity. Additionally, I hope that we engage in conscientious replanting which is to mean that we need to be thinking about the interactions between different types of plants and trees, heat or shade resistant and heat or shade sensitive etc. such that it that supports a healthy ecosystem.
A lot of the negative, impactful, change we are seeing now, is a result of human intervention where it was not needed and as mentioned in class and in the pre-readings, fire suppression creates a positive (but not good) feedback loop such that fires are more likely to happen and they will be more intense. That being said, I think a lot of the work we have left to do then may have to be restorative in order to be preventative rather than strictly management.
We need to restore diversity (polycultures) that are self-sustaining such as playing to the natural landscape (what was planted there before? what does that soil need now? what does the climate of that area support now? what animals live there and what trees and plants do they need to be self-sufficient).
We also need to encourage prescribed, controlled fires that clear surface fuel and prevent ladder fuel such that the crowns and seeds of a tree are preserved for reproduction (see attached image).
Lastly, dense forests are not only more dangerous in terms of fire potential but they are also worse for growth in general as plants need to be spaced out in order to grow themselves as well as leave spaces in the canopy for plants/seeds in the understory to grow. More spaced out forests are important for the future.
An example to make this more real comes from my BIOL306: advanced ecology course (images from Dr. Sean Michaletz's slides); cougars in a conservatory in Florida were dying as a result of dense plants that hid prey and made them harder to capture, leading to cougars starving. Regular, controlled fires benefited their population as they destroyed the plants and allowed the natural predatory-prey cycles to resume and the plants bounced back surprisingly quickly.
Let this story act as reminder that fires are not just a human or plant issue, but an entire ecologically necessary process that includes and impacts all living things. It's presence and absence are both tools and destructors but when we see them as tools that we can control, we can make real beneficial change.