What are the effects of wildfires?
If you have ever seen firefighters battling a wildfire and the images they show on TV, it will give you an idea of the immediate damage it can do to wildlife and vegetation. Fires also destroy houses and almost anything in their way. Additionally, the city spends millions of money to fight them with chemicals, logistics, aircraft, trucks, time, and personnel. The economic loss can be huge.
Soils and organic matter:
Take forest soils as an example. Forest soils are rich in decaying debris and nutrients and are composed of many natural features that support a variety of life forms and organic activities. Wildfires can raise the temperatures of the soils to over 900°C. As a result, it can potentially wipe away almost all the organic value of the soils.
The effect on the watershed is also significant. When organic matter in the soil is burned it can affect the natural layering of the soil. It negatively affects infiltration and percolation, making the soil surfaces water repellent, therefore, water is unable to drain into the water table, and the run-offs on the surfaces cause water erosion.
Researchers believe that forest fires are not all that bad, as they have some benefits too. They believe that even though young animals and birds may die, many animals can escape or move away from fires. Birds fly away, dear and other reptiles find their escape routes, and so on.
Many plants can grow back, and there is usually good recovery after a fire. Some plants have their seeds opened up and exposed to ash-enriched soils. Examples include serotinous cones, from a tree species such as jack pine. Species like white pine and yellow birch also similarly benefit from forest fires.