Forest Management Plays a Critical Role in Wildfire Prevention

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The United Stated experiences up to 10,000 wildfires a year. The majority of these are human-caused but they can also be human-mitigated through active forest management. Managing forests to prevent the rapid spread of fires can maintain local economies, protect homes, and protect endangered plant and animal life. 

Active forest management includes the removal of flammable brush and forest thinning to prevent the spread of fire from tree to tree. Hazardous fuels removal is incentivized by forest product sectors like the wood energy industry, which affixes new value to previously low-value thinned wood fiber. Wood energy is often sourced from wood fiber that is underutilized or has no other market in that region. By finding markets for these materials, thinning out the smaller trees supports industry while at the same time reducing the occurrence and spread of wildfires.

Not only is the forestry crucial for conservation, it is the backbone of many rural and state-wide economies. In 2013 North Carolina's forest sector employed more than 70,000 people and generated $18.5 billion in gross state revenue. Properly managed forests are a powerful tool for combating and reducing the occurrence of wildfires while also providing sustainable employment and state revenue for North Carolina.