Build fire breaks
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
Fire is an important disturbance in some marshes and swamps, whether it occurs naturally (Sutter & Kral 1994) or is prescribed by humans to manage the vegetation (Middleton 2013). However, if fire becomes too frequent or intense, or occurs at the “wrong” time of year, it can cause undesirable damage to these ecosystems. Fires within marshes or swamps can directly damage the vegetation and soils (Kotze 2013). Fires in the watershed can affect the water quality in focal marshes or swamps (Pinel-Alloul et al. 2002).
Fire breaks could be constructed to completely exclude fires from marshes/swamps or nearby habitats, or restrict fires to certain areas. Fire breaks could be strips cleared of vegetation, strips of fire-resistant vegetation, embankments, empty ditches or water-filled ditches (Adinugroho et al. 2011). Caution: If left in place over the long term, fire breaks may pose a threat to marshes and swamps (e.g. ditches could act as drains). So, it may be desirable to dismantle them once the fire risk has passed.
To be summarized in this action, studies could have compared areas (or time periods) in which marshes or swamps were protected with fire breaks with areas (or time periods) in which they were not protected and experienced wild fire. Studies must have monitored the vegetation, not just properties of the fire.
Related actions: Thin vegetation to prevent wild fires; Raise water level to prevent wild fires; Increase ‘on the ground’ protection for marshes or swamps, including fire fighting teams.
Adinugroho W.C., Suryadiputra I.N.N., Saharjo B.H. & Siboro L. (2011) Manual for the Control of Fire in Peatlands and Peatland Forest. Wetlands International Indonesia & Wildlife Habitat Canada, Bogor.
Kotze D.C. (2013) The effects of fire on wetland structure and functioning. African Journal of Aquatic Science, 38, 237–247.
Middleton B.A. (2013) Rediscovering traditional vegetation management in preserves: trading experiences between cultures and continents. Biological Conservation, 158, 750–760.
Pinel-Alloul B., Prepas E., Planas D., Steedman R. & Charette T. (2002) Watershed impacts of logging and wildfire: case studies in Canada. Lake and Reservoir Management, 18, 307–318.
Sutter R.D. & Kral R. (1994) The ecology, status, and conservation of two non-alluvial wetland communities in the South Atlantic and Eastern Gulf coastal plain, USA. Biological Conservation, 235–243.