Use prescribed fire to control problematic plants: brackish/saline swamps
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
Prescribed burns can be used to manage problematic plants that may overgrow and outcompete desirable vegetation. By removing above-ground vegetation, fire can also be used to manage the physical vegetation structure (Flores et al. 2011). Prescribed burns may have only temporary effects: many plants can regrow from remaining stumps, roots or rhizomes (underground horizontal stems).
Potential benefits of management by prescribed burning should be weighed up against potential risks. For example, it can be difficult to control the intensity, duration and area of a prescribed burn: burning when the ground is wet and/or cold might be safer (Hackney & de la Cruz 1981). Burning can damage seed banks, and might produce apparently desirable changes in vegetation over the short term followed by a rapid return to a degraded state. Burning can also damage the physical habitat (e.g. by exposing sediments, increasing erosion and reducing accumulation of organic matter; McKee & Grace 2012) and may be harmful to animals like amphibians (Smith & Sutherland 2014) and birds (Flores et al. 2011).
The timing and duration of monitoring might be particularly important when evaluating the effects of this action. Burning might produce apparently desirable changes in vegetation over the short term, followed by a rapid return to a degraded state.
For this action, “vegetation” refers to overall or non-target vegetation. Studies that only report responses of target problematic plants have not been summarized.
Flores C., Bounds D.L. & Ruby D.E. (2011) Does prescribed fire benefit wetland vegetation? Wetlands, 31, 35–44.
Hackney C.T. & de la Cruz A.A. (1981) Effects of fire on brackish marsh communities: management implications. Wetlands, 1, 75–86.
McKee K.L. & Grace J.B. (2012) Effects of Prescribed Burning on Marsh Elevation Change and the Risk of Wetland Loss. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012-1031.
Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2014) Amphibian Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions. Pelagic Publishing, Exeter, UK.