What biodiversity will be restored after a forest burns down?

by Samantha Bacchus McLeod

No one really knows. The only guarantee is the forest you knew and love is forever gone, and whatever grows back is going to be something completely new.

Some forest fires, based on the build-up of forest debris, can burn hot and long. This will cause serious damage to the soil. Recovery may take decades.

High-temperature fires cause soils to become hydrophobic – a covering of water-repelling compounds that re-condense on soil particles. This means the soil soaks up a lot less water which makes it difficult for plants to take root.

The after-fire landscape is now vulnerable to erosion – erosion carries away topsoil, that will eventually block and obstruct streams and waterways. Without good topsoil the chances of regrowth can take longer, or never.

Bacteria and fungi in soil provide nutrients for the plants that live in a forest, if soil sterilization occurred – where a hot and slow-moving fire destroyed soil fungi and microbes – the hope of regrowth is slim to none.

Then there is non-native invasion – hardy invasive species colonize the post-fire landscape, which will prevent the return of the original native species.

If it is prime land “with a view”, the worst species of all will invade, real estate developers.


Conclusion – the original ecosystem will never be restored, because a new system has taken its place.

What this all means?

Climate change is real.

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