NASHVILLE — A recent study conducted by forestry researchers shows that wildfire cuts the value of timber nearly in half in the Appalachian region of Kentucky and Tennessee. The study was conducted by the University of Kentucky Department of Forestry in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry and the University of Tennessee.
According to the report, 47 percent of timber values are lost when a forest is burned by wildfire compared to what it would be if not burned at all.
“The financial losses from wildfire extend well beyond damage to individual trees,” said Dr. Jeff Stringer, professor of hardwood silviculture and forest operations at the University of Kentucky who led the study. “We found that repeated burning, a common occurrence in our region, changes the species and structure of our forests resulting in significant long-term losses.”
An average of more than 18,000 forested acres per year was burned by wildfire over the past 10 years in Tennessee. Based on the study, this burning caused an average annual loss of between $2.5 million and $10.4 million in timber value of our forests. Continued burning at this rate will increase losses as acres are re-burned and contribute to a steady loss of value.
About 90 percent of wildfires in Tennessee are caused by human activity, predominantly by escaped debris burns and arson. The Division of Forestry requires a burn permit to conduct a debris burn of leaves and brush where local ordinances do not exist through May 15. The free permit can be obtained online at www.burnsafetn.org or by calling your local forestry office. If you suspect arson activity in your area, please call the arson hotline at 800-762-3017.