Magazine article American Forests

Earth Month 2016: The Elements of Forests

Magazine article American Forests

Earth Month 2016: The Elements of Forests

Article excerpt

This Earth Month, we conducted a digital conversation around the theme of The Elements of Forests. The four classical elements - fire, earth, air and water - have had cultural significance in civilizations, both ancient and modern, around the world. We discussed how these elements shape our forests and, in turn, how our forests shape the elements. Here's a recap of some of the themes we discussed for each element.

Fire

Despite the threat posed by high-intensity megafires, forests and fire can actually work together for the health of the ecosystem. Naturally occurring fires, or even controlled burns, clear out underbrush and help to prevent megafires. And, in fact, some tree species rely on heat in order to release their seeds, while some wildlife need it to create habitat.

Earth

The forest floor is made up of layers of organic material, which creates rich, fertile soil. Forests stabilize those soils, which helps to protect waterways and wildlife habitat. The tree roots growing beneath the forest filter out soil pollutants and improve soil structure. …

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