Approximately 86% of the South's 212 million acres of forestland is privately-owned, making it the nation's stronghold for private forestland ownership. In order to sustain healthy forests and maintain the economic viability of forestland, forest management is vital.
Forest management practices such as thinning and prescribed burning create healthier, more productive forests. Overcrowded trees often struggle to survive, weakening them against insects or disease. Thinning competing trees allows remaining trees to grow faster and be more resistant to pests. Prescribed burning removes competing vegetation, improves habitat for wildlife, and reduces dangerous buildup of combustible forest fuels.
Fire plays a vital role in maintaining certain ecosystems. Although there have been regional variations across the United States, fire has been used as a management tool throughout history. In the South, it has been used to maintain oak and pine savannas, clear brush, create wildlife habitat, clear land for agriculture, control pests and improve livestock grazing.