The goal of the Fire Ecology Program is to improve management for conservation of natural ecosystems through scientific research and outreach regarding the role of fire in natural plant communities. Research is conducted in collaboration with private land owners, universities, state and government agencies, and other not-for-profit organizations. Information is shared through publications, conferences and seminars, extension services to private and public landowners, conservation workshops, advisory committees, and public outreach activities. Research is supported by core funds, external grants, and private donations.
The Fire Ecology Program promotes the use of prescribed fire (controlled burning) as an essential tool for managing natural ecosystems in the southern U.S. Many native plant and animals species depend on fire to maintain their habitat and have become rare and threatened because of the lack of fire in most places. Our program seeks knowledge on how to use fire in such a way that is most effective in maintaining native biodiversity while minimizing smoke and wildfire risks that impact the general public. Prescribed fire is a safe way to apply a natural process to ensure ecosystem health and reduce wildfire risk.