Study: Thinning and burning help a forest survive drought

By Melissa Sevigny
KNAU Arizona Public Radio
August 30, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

A new study from Northern Arizona University shows thinning and regular prescribed burns can help ponderosa pine forests survive both drought and wildfire. The work took place at a thirty-year-old research site on the Fort Valley Experimental Forest north of Flagstaff.  …And in this study, the initial thinning was followed by repeated burning every four years. In fact, we’re going to burn it this fall. That repeated burning, that frequent fire interval, is key to the function of this ecosystem.  …We actually found that both young and old trees responded to the thinning and grew really fast. That’s not a surprise with young trees. When you open up and make resources available, young trees can tend to thrive and jump on that.  …First and foremost, as we work to translate this science, I hope it makes the public feel better about seeing reduction in forest density. 

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