Wildfires are not always bad

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Why is controlled burning used, since forest burning is so bad for the atmosphere? As you read at the beginning of the introduction to this course, wildfires are a natural way of the ecosystems to clean themselves. They remove old and dead vegetation, which does not serve as carbon sink anymore, and return the nutrients back to the soil on which forests grow.

Wildfires also help to remove overgrown trees, which often block the access to the sun for new vegetation, preventing it from flourishing. They also help to remove harmful insects and plants which could spread disease. You can think of wildfires as forest regeneration, eliminating old and sick and replacing with new on fertile grounds, fed by ashes and decomposing trees.

Wildfires are needed for healthy forests, and when they do not happen often enough, it harms the entire ecosystem – from vegetation to wildlife. Controlled burning is prescribed when wildfires do not occur often enough or when the area endangered by fire is too big to manage sudden uncontrolled fire outburst. The area is then prepared for a controlled burning beforehand, and the fire is set to help the forests to recover and flourish.