The natural role of fire in northern conifer forests
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): M. L. Heinselman
Editor(s): C. W. Slaughter; R. J. Barney; G. M. Hansen
Publication Year: 1971

Cataloging Information

  • Canada
  • competition
  • coniferous forests
  • deciduous forests
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • fire control
  • fire dependent species
  • fire exclusion
  • fire management
  • fire scar analysis
  • fire suppression
  • forest management
  • lightning caused fires
  • mineral soils
  • overstory
  • plant diseases
  • prescribed fires (escaped)
  • seed dormancy
  • serotiny
  • succession
  • understory vegetation
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 45800
Tall Timbers Record Number: 21390
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: A13.32/2:F54 1971
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


The primeval conifer forests of North America, with their associated deciduous components, were largely fire-dependent ecosystems. Fire was a key environmental factor in controlling succession, species composition, and age structure of these forests. An almost universal policy of fire exclusion over the last 50 years is superimposing a vegetation succession which is 'unnatural' and is often undesirable in terms of resource management. For most forested areas, a fire policy is advocated which involves selective control of wildfires and managed, prescribed burning to duplicate the natural fire regime.

Heinselman, M. L. 1971. The natural role of fire in northern conifer forests, in Slaughter, C. W., Barney, R. J., and Hansen, G. M., Fire in the northern environment -- a symposium: proceedings. Fairbanks, AK. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station,Portland, OR. p. 61-72,