Raise water level to prevent wild fires
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
Fire is an important disturbance in some marshes and swamps, whether it occurs naturally (Sutter & Kral 1994) or is prescribed by humans to manage the vegetation (Middleton 2013). However, if fire becomes too frequent or intense, or occurs at the “wrong” time of year, it can cause undesirable damage to these ecosystems. Fires within marshes or swamps can directly damage the vegetation and soils (Kotze 2013). Fires in the watershed can affect the water quality in focal marshes or swamps (Pinel-Alloul et al. 2002).
It may be possible to manage the frequency, intensity and timing of wild fires by raising the water level/table in focal marshes/swamps or surrounding areas. Wet soils or areas of open water can suppress fire. Caution: Restoring limited flooding to a site could actually increase fire risk by encouraging plant growth and thereby increasing fuel load during dry periods (Heinl et al. 2006).
To be summarized in this action, studies could have compared areas (or time periods) with high water tables and areas (or time periods) with low water tables and where wild fire occurred. Studies must have monitored the vegetation within marshes or swamps, not just properties of the fire.
Related actions: Raise water level to restore degraded habitats (freshwater marshes – brackish/salt marshes – freshwater swamps – brackish/saline swamps); Raise water level to restore/create habitats from other land uses (freshwater marshes – brackish/salt marshes – freshwater swamps – brackish/saline swamps); Thin vegetation to prevent wild fires; Build fire breaks; Increase ‘on the ground’ protection for marshes or swamps, including fire fighting teams.
Heinl M., Neuenschwander A., Sliva J. & Vanderpost C. (2006) Interactions between fire and flooding in a southern African floodplain system (Okavango Delta, Botswana). Landscape Ecology, 21, 699–709.
Kotze D.C. (2013) The effects of fire on wetland structure and functioning. African Journal of Aquatic Science, 38, 237–247.
Middleton B.A. (2013) Rediscovering traditional vegetation management in preserves: trading experiences between cultures and continents. Biological Conservation, 158, 271–279.
Pinel-Alloul B., Prepas E., Planas D., Steedman R. & Charette T. (2002) Watershed impacts of logging and wildfire: case studies in Canada. Lake and Reservoir Management, 18, 307–318.
Sutter R.D. & Kral R. (1994) The ecology, status, and conservation of two non-alluvial wetland communities in the South Atlantic and Eastern Gulf coastal plain, USA. Biological Conservation, 235–243.