Fires are often associated with feelings of danger and destruction, but that isn’t always the case. Southern Company subsidiaries, like Alabama Power and Georgia Power, understand the value quality planned fires can bring to the landscapes, wildlife and plant species in the longleaf pine ecosystem.
Routine burns, or controlled burns, are essential for longleaf pines to flourish and thrive. Longleaf pines are slow-growing trees with seedbeds that often are overtaken by underbrush, causing seedlings to go untouched by sunlight and thus unable to grow. Controlled burns, conducted by a professional under the right circumstances, clear out overgrown underbrush, reduce hazardous fuel accumulations, prepare longleaf seed beds, encourage pine seedling establishment, suppress invasive and unwanted vegetation, improve wildlife habitat and control insects and disease—just to name a few benefits.
“We are getting rid of what is not supposed to be there and exposing the seed bank,” said Alabama Power Forrester Chris Wyatt following a recent prescribed burn. “The key is to come in here and help restore this ecosystem. We can’t burn it every year, otherwise the fire would do more harm than good.”
Controlled burns are just one effort Southern Company and its operating companies use to support their mission to restore the longleaf pine ecosystem.