Effects of Logging on Fire Regimes in Moist Forests

Does logging affect the fire proneness of forests? This question often arises after major wildfires, but data suggest that answers differ substantially among different types of forest.

Logging can alter key attributes of forests by changing microclimates, stand structure and species composition, fuel characteristics, the prevalence of ignition points, and patterns of landscape cover. These changes may make some kinds of forests more prone to increased probability of ignition and increased fire severity.

Such forests include tropical rainforests where fire was previously extremely rare or absent and other moist forests where natural fire regimes tend toward low frequency, stand replacing events. Relationships between logging and fire regimes are contingent on forest practices, the kind of forest under consideration, and the natural fire regime characteristic of that forest. Such relationships will influence both the threat of fire to human life and infrastructure and biodiversity conservation. We therefore argue that conservation scientists must engage in debates about fire and logging to provide
an environmental context to guide considered actions.

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