Fire! A Prescription for Life!

Hungryland Slough Natural Area, Palm Beach County

fire scarred area

We humans look at fire as among the ultimate disasters, and it can be in our lives, certainly. But in nature, fire is a necessity. Fire is life. Florida habitats, when left to their own devices, burn at regular intervals from lightning strikes. Fire does several things: it prevents habitats from becoming overgrown, and it opens up the land for new plants. It encourages regeneration and allows for biodiversity. Some species actually do better in the aftermath of fire. Some plants require it for their seeds to germinate. Fire at regular intervals prevents the buildup of fuel that causes intense, destructive conflagrations. Each habitat type has its own "cycle," wetter places burn less frequrently, drier places more. In places like Hungryland Slough Natural Area, it's impractical for land managers to rely on nature to take its course, so they take matters into their own hands by intentionally setting fire to land, what are called prescribed burns. You'll see places like the scene above bearing the scars of a relatively recent burn throughout Hungryland. In time, the land will return to its verdant state. Next photo.


Published by Wild South Florida, PO Box 7241, Delray Beach, FL 33482.
Photographs by David Sedore. Photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without permission.