Remove burnt trees and branches after wildfire
Overall effectiveness category Unlikely to be beneficial
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
After wildfires, a frequent management option is to remove burnt trees but to leave branches on the ground for economic reasons and to prevent soil erosion. However, some mammals are thought to benefit from areas with a low density of woody material at ground level (e.g. Beja et al. 2007) so removing branches might benefit these species.
Beja P., Pais M. & Palma L. (2007) Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus habitats in Mediterranean scrubland: the role of scrub structure and composition. Wildlife Biology, 13, 28–37.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2006–2008 of a pine-dominated forest in Catalonia, Spain (Rollan & Real 2011) found that removing burned trees and branches after wildfire did not alter European wild rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus numbers compared to removing burned trees but leaving branches in place. There was no significant difference between rabbit pellet numbers in plots with trees and branches removed (1,400–5,100 pellets/plot) and those with trees removed but branches left in place (3,100–7,700 pellets/plot). High intensity wildfire in summer 2003 burned 4,600 ha of forest. Plots (100 × 100 m) were established, 200–6,615 m apart. All plots had burnt trees trunks removed in 2004. In 20 plots, branches were left on the ground. In 10 plots, branches were initially left on the ground, but most were then removed in spring 2006, though some were piled up and left in the plots. Rabbit relative abundance was assessed in June of 2006, 2007 and 2008 by counting latrines in 500 × 2 m transects.Study and other actions tested