prescribed burn?

  • 10 Jan 2024 2:22 PM
    Message # 13299489

    I am exploring the idea of a prescribed burn of a 10 acre forested island.  

    My intent is to prevent catastrophic damage, should there be a fire during some future drought event.

    The forest is mostly white pine that naturally regenerated after the area was logged some 80 years ago.  It is all one property, with no buildings or utilities.  

    I will consult with the local fire department (South Frontenac Township) before getting too far into any planning for this.

    My questions are: 

    Is there any experience of using prescribed burns in Eastern Ontario?

    Are there better ways of protecting the forest? (less risky, less damaging)

    Any thoughts or suggested resources would be appreciated.

  • 15 Jan 2024 10:30 AM
    Reply # 13301182 on 13299489
    Olyvia Foster (Administrator)

    Hello Hendrik,

    I'm relaying this information from some of our foresters on staff. First of all, the fire risk at the landscape level in southern and eastern Ontario remains low and is concentrated mainly on individual stands with high fuel loads. This means the spread of any fire will likely be limited and localized.

    Alternative options include pruning ladder fuels and thinning overall stem density through a harvest in the shelterwood system. However, it's hard to say what is most appropriate for your property without seeing the bush. The bark vigour/structure of the white pine might not be ready for a prescribed burn either at 80 years old (i.e. smooth bark vigour that has not developed thick plates).

    If you're still looking to pursue a prescribed burn, you should be aware that it's quite difficult to do in Ontario and it's expensive. We are aware of a firm in Ontario that assists with prescribed burns, and they're called Lands and Forests Consulting (website:

    We recommend bringing in a forester to see your bush before moving ahead. There's a list of forest service providers on our website:

  • 23 Jan 2024 11:31 AM
    Reply # 13304807 on 13299489

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply.  I will certainly engage with a forestry professional before taking this any further.

  • 23 Mar 2024 11:26 AM
    Reply # 13333689 on 13299489
    Eve-Marie Chamot

    re:- prescribed forest burn

    Don't do it, period:- it's a very savage and outmoded way to "manage" a forest. Most (really, all) local fire chiefs will very strongly advise against it and would most likely take legal action against you in the interest of public safety. Your neighbours also will be very unhappy and if the fire wanders over onto neighbouring properties you could find yourself facing very costly legal action plus you might find it difficult to get fire-insurance coverage in the future. Fire is the "fourth state" of matter and always very aggressive and dynamic and unpredictable with even a small campfire having the ability to quickly explode out of control "in the wink of an eye". Fire basically reduces much of your forest ecosystem to ashes and severely disrupts your ecosystem which will take years to recover. Using fire for land clearance and management in Ontario has caused untold harm in the long past with major "burns" causing massive damage even in southern Ontario from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century and many burned areas have not yet recovered ecologically after even a century+. There is no "easy" way to manage brush and weeds on land and burning is no longer an acceptable "short-cut" in Ontario. You might make it an ongoing weekend project to cut brush for the personal health benefits of getting outside:- otherwise perhaps you might fence your property and get a couple of goats or even a yak or two and let them gradually graze off the brush and weeds.  Just some thoughts.../  EMC

Ontario Woodlot Association

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