Wildfire, the term conjures up burning forests with towering pines bursting with the sound of gunfire into flames. Antelope running before a wall from the fire as it burns across the prairie. They are considered destructive and they can be, especially to human habitation, but what is the overall effect on the environment. Are wildfires only destructive with no beneficial side effects?
They are destructive in many ways. The destroy the plants and many of the animals that rely on them. Fire destroy the nests of the birds, and if the fire is in the spring, which it usually isn't, the young birds as well. It also destroys the food as well. Acorns and nuts stored by the squirrels are no more. Young plants no longer have tender bark to be chewed.
The wildfire though can also be very beneficial. The flames may toughen the plants and it removes many of the spores and diseases that accumulate in the forest over time. Usually the bigger trees will survive the fire and the fire actually makes them healthier. It removes parasite, removes the competition and adds fertilizer!
And the removal of parasites and fertilizing effect or a wildfire will prove beneficial in the long run. Those bigger trees will drop seeds and those seeds will now have more space top grow and better soil in which to grow. Usually two years after the fire, the forest is exceeding green and vibrant. Some plants actually require fire to help germinate their seeds. Now the animals start to return.
Those animals will now benefit from the wildfire as they have more succulent green sprouts that are easier to find. Also many of the parasites such as ticks and biting flies have been decreased by the fire. Those ticks and such can spread disease, so now the animals are now living in a healthier environment, all because of the wildfire.
That is the problem with trying to assess the effects of wildfire on the environment, it takes time. The initial impression, and it is correct, is one of devastation with loss of habitat and ecosystems. It is only after one studies what happens later that one realizes there is good that can follow, but it does take time.
The effects of a wildfire on the environment is initial devastation and destruction followed by rejuvenation and continuance. Ironically enough, this is true of any natural disaster!