Document Type


Publication Date



Environmental Studies


Jean Lavigne


Prescribed burning is a strategy that has been used to manage the health of forest ecosystems for thousands of years. While these practices have certainly evolved over time, recent impacts of climate change are threatening the future feasibility of implementing fire in forest management altogether. This ecological process is essential to restoring and maintaining a healthy forest ecosystem as fire acts as a catalyst by returning nutrients to soil and promoting healthy regrowth. Prescribed burning prepares forestlands for reforestation by destroying weeds and other competitive species so that native and fire-dependent species can reproduce. This process also lessens the fuel load of a forest by burning excess shrubbery, mitigating wildfire risks. However, increasing impacts of climate change in recent years are creating unsuitable conditions to execute controlled burns in necessary areas. Specifically, it is necessary to consider the humidity, wind speed, and air temperature to ensure the weather conditions are within an appropriate ‘burn window.’ In this study, I examine the historical and cultural significance of prescribed fire, as well as the environmental and climatic components that are required for a burn to take place. It is imperative to understand both components with the aim of implementing thoughtful and effective solutions. Prescribed burning is a management strategy that now requires new alterations in order to remain effective as the climate changes.