University of Florida

Prescribed Burning

Wade Tract Preserve prescribed burn near Thomasville, GA in March 2012.  Photo courtesy of Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


A prescribed burn is controlled application of fire to vegetative fuels, under specified environmental conditions and following appropriate precautionary measures, to achieve specific objectives, including:

  • Wildife hazard reduction
  • Control of undesirable species
  • Wildlife habitat improvement
  • Improved access and visibility
  • Disease control
  • Enhancement of appearance and aesthetics
  • Manipulation of woody material decomposition

In areas of light brush you may need only burn off the area in late summer or early fall before planting.  In other areas where hardwood sprouts are more numerous, fire may be used in conjunction with herbicide or mechanical vegetation control methods.

Although fire is a very effective and inexpensive land management tool, it can be disastrous under adverse conditions.  Seek the assistance of a professional if you are not confident about your knowledge of prescribed fire.  See Prescribed Burning Regulations page for more information.

Fire is very useful to forest managers in many ways and must be applied at the time of year when there is a good chance of acheiving the given objectives.  The distinction between managed fire and wildfire must be made clear to the public so that land management policy will support the safety, health, and economic viability of Florida's public and private forests.  A Guide For Prescribed Fire in Southern Forests provides basic information needed to help you become technically proficient in the proper use of prescribed fire and is likely one of the most complete sources of prescribed fire information on the Web.