Restoring Fire to a Longleaf Forest

Longleaf pine forest

Aerial view of part of the FSUCML Longleaf Pine Restoration Area

The Florida State University Coastal & Marine Laboratory (FSUCML) is using prescribed fire to restore an area of longleaf pine forest. Fires kill above ground portions of woody shrubs, open up space for young longleaf pines to grow, and prevent the accumulation of organic matter. When the forests go long periods of time without fire, shrubs grow into a dense mid-story with a thick layer of organic matter (“duff”), and reintroducing fire into this landscape characterized by an excess amount of fuels could cause a very hot burn, with devastating results. In order to return fire to a forest that had been fire suppressed, the FSUCML has to take many precautions in order ensure a safe and effective prescribed burn.