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Anthropogenic fire regimes

Anthropogenic fire regimes - Purposes& effects of...

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Anthropogenic fire regimes Classic (equilibrium) view sees disturbances (including fire) as harmful & disruptive If anthropogenic, then also viewed as “unnatural” As discussed above, ecologists have mostly given up the first postulate (that disturbance is harmful & disruptive), but they've had a harder time letting go of the "anthropogenic = unnatural” assumption European/colonial forestry & land use has long attempted to suppress fires (in order to maximize timber production, prevent property damage, etc.) Thus, indigenous burning regimes (which were nearly universal -- see Pyne 1998 for a review) were actively suppressed by colonial and post-colonial regimes worldwide Results of this policy include disappearance of open habitats (succession), and the build-up of fuel (unburned underbrush, etc.) which periodically resulted in catastrophic fires (caused by lightning or human accidents)
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Unformatted text preview: Purposes & effects of anthropogenic burning: • Create new clearings – Swidden cultivation • Improve productivity of favored plants – Browse or graze for hunting & herding – Growth of berries, tubers, etc. • Remove underbrush or grass – Expose animal tracks & burrows for hunting – Improve ease of travel – Reduce fire hazards near camps/villages – Reduce pests or insects • Other – Create dry firewood – Heat soil to lengthen growing season – Create/maintain successional mosaic (Mardu example--see Bird et al. 2005) Many fire ecologists are now realizing not only that recurrent burning is a good thing for ecosystem resilience and biodiversity, but that historic anthropogenic burning regimes have shaped many ecosystems and should be brought back in some form or other (Pyne 1998)...
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