Fire destroys entire forests, but it also has a revitalizing role in certain circumstances.
Fire has always been considered the worst enemy of the forest. Why, therefore, are the perpetrators happily walking around the interior of a national park like this one, Santa Rosa?
New knowledge has led to new changes. This, a team of volunteers from the National Parks Service of Costa Rica, sets light to the pasture in deforested areas with two intentions: to instruct new volunteers in the fight against fire; and to enrich the soil for a slow, gradual regeneration to the original jungle. Because we now know that fire, which can destroy entire jungles, in certain circumstances plays a revitalising role.
On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, in Australia, vast grasslands provide shelter and food to many different marsupial species. These prairies, which arose with the warming of the island on its solitary drift northwards, were periodically, and in a natural way, engulfed by flames. With the arrival of the Europeans, these fires were fought, in the belief that they were, in all cases, destructive. But in recent years, scientists have started to change their opinion, discovering something that the Australian Aborigines have long known.
In certain areas, fires revitalise the soil and the plant populations that colonise it, regenerating the carbon cycle and renewing the entire plant community. These deliberate fires are carried out under control in national parks all around the world. Scientific knowledge is proving to be a superb weapon in conservation. But this would serve for little without another vital pillar of the new conservation: raising the awareness and understanding of the local inhabitants.