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Climate vs. logging in forest fire causes

Key quotes:

  • it is climate/weather, not fuels, that drive all large wildfires.

  • the factors responsible for all large wildfires are drought, low humidity, high temperatures and, most importantly, wind.

  • the probability of a wildfire encountering a fuel reduction is very small, even if they did work as some suggest, making most fuel reductions essentially useless but still leaving behind the negative impacts of logging on soils, watersheds, nutrients, carbon storage, wildlife habitat losses, and consequences like spread of weeds, sedimentation from roads into streams and so on.

  • a recently published study concluded: "we found forests with higher levels of protection had lower severity values even though they are generally identified as having the highest overall levels of biomass and fuel."

  • study after study has concluded that protecting homes is best accomplished by reducing the flammability of the structures, not logging the forest. As one study asserted, "it is the treatment of the fuels immediately proximate to the residences, and the degree to which the residential structures themselves can ignite that determine if the residences are vulnerable."


The author, George Wuerthner, is an ecologist who has published 38 books, including "Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy." Wuerthner divides his time between Livingston, Montana, and Bend, Oregon.

Here's the full article:

     Climate vs. logging in forest fire causes

Here's the paper Wuerthner referred to in the last bullet quote:

     Objectives and considerations for wildland fuel treatment in forested ecosystems of the interior western United States