Prescribed Burning in Southern Pine Forests
By: Dean Stewart, Extension Associate, Wildlife & Fisheries, Mississippi State University
Prescribed burning is an important wildlife management tool used in our southern pine forests. With an understanding of fire ecology, landowners can effectively apply techniques to improve wildlife habitat using the controlled application of fire. If used properly, fire is one of the most beneficial and cost-effective wildlife habitat management tools available. For example, annual burning maintains early stages of plant succession that bobwhites require. Fire reduces leaves/needles (litter) on the forest floor and exposes soil so bobwhites can easily find seeds. It creates open foraging and travel areas for hens with young chicks, and it encourages plants that provide food (insects and seeds) and cover for bobwhite. Fire also produces a fertilization effect by removing vegetation and litter, returning many nutrients to the soil.
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