Fighting Fire with Fire

Wildfires occur naturally when lightning strikes a forest or grassland. However, controlled burns, are set by land managers and conservationists to mimic the effects of natural fires.

Find out how this is beneficial and crucial to our ecosystems.

Watch how "Burn Bosses" and student interns in Florida are using fire to benefit plants and animals, as well as people.

What do you remember?


1. What happens if they don’t burn any of the plant life?

a. The ground builds up layers of vegetation

b. It takes a long time for water to get down into the soil

c. Some water pools and evaporates

d. All of the above

2. What is the benefit of exposed ground?

a. Allows water to sink down deep and improves the quality of water

b. Provides room for animals to roam

c. Allows for new plants to sprout

3. What’s another name for a controlled burn?

a. A cycle fire

b. An overhaul burn

c. A prescribed fire

d. A reset burn

4. What is the main purpose of a controlled burn?

a. To free up land for building

b. To control the number of animals in an area

c. To weed out non-native plants

d. To prevent an unintentional fire like a wildfire

5. How has the Long Leaf Pine adapted to protect itself from fires?

a. It drops its needles so there’s nothing to burn

b. It has loose bark which falls off when ignited

c. It grows taller and thinner to slow the burn

Discussion Questions:

• What role does fire play in maintaining healthy ecosystems?

• How does fire impact the surrounding community?

• Is there a need to prescribe fire?

• How have plants and animals adapted to fire?

• What factors must fire managers consider prior to planning and conducting controlled burns?

• What do you think it would be like to a student intern working on controlled burns?

Answers: 1.D  2.A  3.C  4.D  5.B

Thank you to the Nature Conservancy for this resource.