November 16, 2020
Natural disasters have detrimental effects on the environment. The California wildfires are no exception, having destroyed forests, structures, and more since they initially began in August.
One impact of the wildfires that is often overlooked is the consequences they have on the soil.
Without the presence of a wildfire, forested land contains four different layers. At the very top there is litter, which consists of dry leaves and pine needles. Directly below is the organic-rich soil, from which plants draw nutrients in order to keep growing.
Beneath the organic-rich soil lies a water repellant layer and a layer of wettable soil, which act together to protect the soil and hold water for the trees to use.
During a wildfire, the flames actively burn the vegetation and litter layer, consuming the rich organic soil in the process. The bottom layer of wettable soil decreases significantly as well.
After the wildfire has gone, the ash remaining from the fire mixes with the soil and stays on the surface of the land, replacing the vegetation, litter, and organic-rich soil.
The wettable soil is largely depleted, leaving behind half as much of the layer as there used to be before the wildfire.
Due to the devastating effects a wildfire can have on forest land, it is important to clean up excess litter and use fire-resistant materials on your property. Doing so can eliminate some of the damage the wildfires can cause to the soil structure and help the land recover.