Theme: General Session Moderator: J. G. Goldammer, R. E. Martin and B. J. Stocks
Boreal Fire Research in Sweden Past and Present
Sweden has a relatively long tradition in fire research in the forest. The rationale from the beginning was forestry, and continues to be so. Fire had been used in the forest for centuries in Sweden, both to improve grazing, in traditional slash and burn agriculture, and in the mining districts for silvicultural purposes. The first experiments mentioned in the literature however date from 1888 and were conducted in the northern boreal forest to look at pine regeneration. The scientific interest in fire continued to be relatively strong over the period 19001940, mostly from soil scientists such as Henrik Hesselman and from foresters, notably Joel Wretlind. He perfected a method of prescribed burning under seed trees and established several research plots, some of which are still being monitored. In the 1950s Evald Uggla did experimental ecological work in connection with prescribed burns. From the mid 1960s, the use of prescribed fire declined, and so did the interest in fire from the scientific community.
Today the situation has changed and there is a large interest in the role of fire for biodiversity in the boreal forest. This time too, forest management questions are driving much of the research, but from a different perspective than in the early 1900s.
In comparison with many other parts of Europe, Sweden may offer good opportunities for experimental work with fire. The large forest companies are often willing to participate in operations, and the the forestry road net makes access easy. The fact that only minute areas are burning today in wildfires, due to effective fire suppression, may be another point for some research. In e.g. studies on fire adapted insects, or on charcoal distribution, it may be an advantage to do experiments in an area where experimental fires really make a difference.
Key words: fire, boreal forest, research history.
Correspondence: Anders Granström, Department of Forest Vegetation Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, S-901 83 Umeå, Sweden