A prescribed fire is an intentional fire planned and managed by fire specialists. A “prescription” describes the conditions and procedures necessary to burn safely and effectively. La Mauricie National Park conduct prescribed fire almost each year since 1991.
Why carry out prescribed burning?
Fire is important to the vitality of forests, since it revitalizes their ecological integrity. It is and always has been a natural disturbance essential to the maintenance of forests. Fire recycles nutrients, helps plants reproduce and creates a mosaic of plant species that ensures favourable wildlife habitats. Without fire, ecosystems lose their precious diversity: trees begin growing in meadows and wildlife populations that prefer open spaces or young forests, such as moose, deer and bears, start to decline. Systematic fire suppression creates an imbalance and the forest ages and closes up: it loses biodiversity.
Lack of fire can also lead to an accumulation of dead wood, branches and other highly inflammable debris, creating conditions conducive to uncontrollable and very intense fires that can threaten people and property. Many park managers use prescribed burning to reduce the accumulation of combustible materials and thus decrease the risk of such fires.
Parks Canada’s fire specialists take into account weather, type of vegetation, moisture levels, terrain, anticipated fire behavior and more when writing a prescription. They define the boundary of the fire using natural barriers, such as cliffs and wetlands, combined with other features, such as roads and constructed fuel breaks made by people. Finally, the team outlines the conditions under which the prescription can be used. When these conditions are met, the team is ready for action.
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