In contrast to many other countries within the boreal and subboreal region, Sweden today has very small problems with forest fires, despite the unusual size of the fires of 1992. In fact, fire protection has been successful to such a degree that the lack of fire creates problems for nature conservation. In former times fire was the main disturbing agent and many plants and animals were adapted to fire.
To meet a growing demand for basic knowledge about fire ecology and the use of fire, a two day course was held at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umeå, Northern Sweden. For several years there has been more and more talk about the need to start using fire as a management tool in nature reserves that had been structured earlier by repeated fires, but nothing has been done so far on the ground. Forest managers on the other hand are eager today to adjust forestry practices to the former patterns of natural disturbance. The use of prescribed fire is one of the ways to achieve this. Until the late 1960s prescribed fire was extensively used for site preparation, but today most of the experienced people have gone.
Thirty people from Sweden and Finland attended the course. They were a mix of company foresters, nature conservation officials and officials from the forest extension service. Lectures were given on forest history, cultural aspects of fire, fire behaviour, the effects of fire on plants, fire dependent insects, and legislation. At an evening workshop people had to solve one of two tasks: a plan for prescribed burning in Björnlandet National Park or a plan to use fire for integrated nature conservation and site preparation on commercial forest land. One day was dedicated to field exercises. Fire behaviour in various fuels was demonstrated on small plots, and waterbombing with a helicopter was shown. Thanks to suitable weather a larger burning operation could also be undertaken. A pine-dominated piece of forest, surrounded by good fire breaks on three sides, was burnt over. The course will be given again in early summer of 1993, this time with particular emphasis on the situation in the southern half of Sweden.
From: Anders Granström Address: Department of Forest Ecology Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences S-901 83 Umeå