U.S. Joint Fire Science Program

 

Date of this Version

2009

Document Type

Article

Citation

Fire Science Brief, Issue 59, July 2009

Comments

US government work.

Abstract

Chipping as a land management tool is increasing in popularity to treat lands where burning presents problems, such as areas with ever growing population along the wildland-urban interface. Escaped fi re, and health and nuisance hazards from smoke have caused many managers to avoid burning altogether. The researchers found chipping by itself is likely not an adequate surrogate for fi re, either for restoring ecosystems to desired plant communities, or for limiting fuels, changing fi re behavior, and reducing smoke as a safeguard for future wildfi res. However, chipping in conjunction with fi re demonstrates mostly positive benefi ts for limiting fuels, changing fi re behavior, and reducing smoke as a safeguard from future wildfi res. A single chip followed by resumption of frequent fi re appears to be the best tradeoff between relatively minor but detectable negative impacts of chipping on plant biodiversity and the positive benefi ts of chipping in restoring fuels and structure to fi re-excluded stands. In high quality sites with diverse ground layer vegetation and a history of frequent fi re, chipping does more harm than good and is not recommended as a management option.