Ecosystem restoration is an adaptive process. Sometimes it uses methods that seem more destructive than restorative. Fire has always been a key part of nature’s regenerative process. Conservationists recognize its importance and use it to restore ecosystem health through controlled or prescribed burns.
CVC successfully conducted its first single-day controlled grassland burn at Upper Credit Conservation Area on April 19. A controlled grassland burn is a carefully managed fire. It helps restore, maintain, and protect prairie and grassland habitat by controlling non-native grasses and preventing shrubs and trees from establishing. CVC’s early-season burn will prevent non-native grasses that grow early in spring from outcompeting later-season native grassland species by providing important nutrients and space for them to grow.
The burn will also protect the grassland from transitioning to a forest ecosystem. Native prairie meadows and grasslands are some of the most diverse and resilient ecosystems in North America. They provide valuable habitat for local wildlife like birds, butterflies, and bees. They also prevent erosion, slow runoff, suppress weeds and prevent soil nutrient loss. There are very few native grasslands left in Ontario, so preserving them is critical to protecting the variety of plants, animals, and insects that rely on them to survive.
But doesn’t burning harm plants? A controlled burn targets only undesirable species through timing and management to create the conditions for native species to thrive.
You can learn more about CVC’s controlled grassland burn at cvc.ca.