Wildfires are often associated with destruction. It wipes out homes, wildlife habitat, and of course trees. Areas that are damaged to that extent take time to regrow. Also, all that burning has another side effect. It releases a burst of greenhouse gasses into the air. The smoke and ash from the fire can make it difficult to breathe, especially for those prone to respiratory problems like asthma.
It goes without saying that property damage is an issue with wildfires. As long as people have enough warning, there should be no casualties. However, as climate change continues to make weather increasingly severe, human safety becomes less reliable.
However, one of the main issues comes from the lack of vegetation. After intense wildfires, there is a risk of soil erosion. If the fire is small, it may not be a big deal, but for fires that burn thousands of acres can pose serious hazards.
Benefits Hidden in the Destruction
In areas where wildfires occur naturally, the plants have adapted to take advantage of it. The fires can be the only trigger for some seeds to be released from their pods and have the opportunity to grow. The animals are also familiar with the idea and generally return to the area quickly. A huge portion of this comes from the fact that those new plants will grow very quickly.
The reason they grow that fast is due to the fires. When all the vegetation burns off, it leaves behind a lot of nutrients. Any plant that grows in the newly replenished soil can take off quickly.
Minimizing Soil Erosion Risks
If one of the bigger issues after the fire is from soil erosion, then the primary goal should be to prevent it. The most efficient way to do that is to replace the vegetation. You can just let it grow back naturally, but there are plenty of other options as well.
One option gaining momentum is hydroseeding. This is a unique method that allows you to seed a large area very quickly. The seeds are mixed with a slurry of mulch, water, and nutrients. Then the slurry is sprayed over the area to be planted. The mixture helps retain water and provides the seeds with everything they may need to get started. With wildfires, that slurry mixes with soil that’s already nutrient rich. The seeds can get take root and grow, prevent soil erosion and allow the habitat to regrow faster.
Keep Areas Moist
Keeping an area moist is helpful. The most important aspect is preventing another fire from starting right after the first. Depending on the area, underground fires, like mulch fires, can keep burning and go unnoticed. Keeping the ground moist can help prevent it from becoming more of an actual wildfire. This is a combination of prevention and recovery, so it does double duty!
Encourage Native Plant Growth
One last thing you can do is keep an eye out for invasive species. Right after a fire would be a prime time for them to try and take over. Encouraging the growth and spread of native species not only helps protect the environment but also supports the native wildlife to return. This is even more important if you’re dealing with an area that has endangered species. In that case, returning to a sustainable environment is even more paramount.
If you can’t do any of these things, there’s still one option. You can always volunteer. It does take some training to be able to work with fire, but the department will certainly give you some tips on what you can do at home and around your neighborhood.