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Fire Ecology



CIFOR and partners have done a global review and synthesis of how fires affect biodiversity and ecosystem function. They conclude that fire plays an important role in maintaining the health of certain ecosystems, but that climate change and human use (and misuse) of fire has made burning a threat to many forests and their biodiversity.

CIFOR has also supported some site-specific work looking at how fires affect trees and forests, and assessing post-fire vegetation dynamics, mainly in Indonesia and in lowland dipterocarp forests. There have been three key groups of research:

  1. Mark van Nieuwstadt did his doctoral research looking at the post-fire development of a lowland tropical dipterocarp forest in Sungai Wain Reserve, East Kalimantan after the 1997-98 El Niño fires, and its recovery potential for timber production and environmental conservation. Results suggested good recovery potential if further disturbances such as salvage logging or repeated fires were avoided. His studies also separated out the effects of drought versus fire on the standing forest.
  2. The second research group relates to studies carried out by Takeshi Toma and other partners in the Bukit Soeharto educational forest in East Kalimantan, assessing forest dynamics and structure, biomass recovery and carbon stocks after the 1997-98 and/or 1982-83 El Niño fires. The fire resistance of different tree species and effects of fire on wood properties was also assessed. Many of these papers were published in workshop proceedings on rehabilitating degraded forest ecosystems.
  3. The third relates to studies by Putz and others on responses of Bolivian timber species to prescribed fire and other gap treatments, and the persistence of figs through fires in the burnt forests of Borneo and Venezuela.

Some work being completed on fire ecology in the Indonesian peatlands will be posted under the peatlands section.




Nasi, R.; Dennis, R.; Meijaard, E.; Applegate, G.; Moore, P. 2002. Forest fire and biological diversity. Unasylva 53(209): 36-40.
R. Dennis, E. Meijaard, G. Applegate, R. Nasi, and P. Moore. 2001. Impacts of human-caused fires on biodiversity and ecosystem funtioning, and their causes in tropical, temperate and boreal forest biomes. CBD Technical Series No 5. UNEP, CBD. Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity.
e-files PDF Complete file : English (size 192 KB)
van Nieuwstadt, M.G.L.; Sheil, D. 2005. Drought, fire and tree survival in a Borneo rain forest, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Journal of Ecology 93(1): 191-201.
abstract : English
van Nieuwstadt, M.G.L.; Kartawinata, K.; Sheil, D. 2002. Konsekuensi ekologis pembalakan dalam kawasan hutan yang terbakar di Kalimantan Timur. Jurnal Hutan Indonesia Edisi perdana Agustus (first ed. August): 4p.
abstract : Indonesian
van Nieuwstadt, M.G.L.; Sheil, D.; Kartawinata, K. 2001. The ecological consequences of logging in the burned forests of East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Conservation Biology 15(4): 1183-1186.
abstract : English
Toma, T.; Ishida, A.; Matius, P. 2005. Long-term monitoring of post-fire aboveground biomass recovery in a lowland dipterocarp forest in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 71(1): 63-72.
abstract : English
Diana, R.; Hadriyanto, D.; Hiratsuka, M.; Toma, T.; Morikawa, Y. 2002. Carbon stocks of fast growing tree species and baselines after forest fire in east Kalimantan, Indonesia. In: Kuo-chuan Lin, Jiun-cheng Lin, Hsing-yin Huang (eds.). Proceedings of International Symposium on Forest Carbon Sequestration and Monitoring, November 11-15, 2002 Taipei, Taiwan. Taipei, Taiwan, Forestry Research Institute. TFRI Extension Series No. 153. 19-24.
abstract : English
Budi, A.S. 2001. Effects of forest fire on wood: a biological (anatomical study). In: Kobayashi, S., Turnbull, J.W., Toma, T., Mori, T., Majid, N.M.N.A. (eds.). Rehabilitation of degraded tropical forest ecosystems: workshop proceedings, 2-4 November 1999, Bogor, Indonesia. Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR. 57-68.
e-files PDF Complete file : English (size 344 KB)
Delmy, A. 2001. Fire resistance of tree species in Bukit Soeharto Education Forest, East kalimantan, Indonesia. In: S. Kobayashi, J.W. Turnbull, T. Toma, T. Mori, N.M.N.A. Majid (eds.). Rehabilitation of degraded tropical forest ecosystems: workshop proceedings, 2-4 November 1999, Bogor, Indonesia. Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR. 27-34.
e-files PDF Complete file : English (size 100 KB)
Ruchaemi, A. 2001. Dynamic and structure of lowland dipterocarps forest after fire in Bukit Suharto, East kalimantan, Indonesia. Rimba Kalimantan 6(2): 1-7.
abstract : English
Kennard, D.K.; Putz, F.E. 2005. Differential responses of Bolivian timber species to prescribed fire and other gap treatments. New Forests 30(1): 1-20.
abstract : English
Putz, F E.; Susilo, A. 1994. Figs and fire. Biotropica 26: 468-469.
e-files PDF Complete file : English (size 92 KB)

Last updated: Wednesday, June 07, 2006