Modeling prescribed burning integration into forest management at landscape scale to restore lichen pastures in Northern Sweden

Lichen, fire and reindeers… These are almost all the topics Juliette Picard, master 2 internship in TESS, is working on with Samuel Roturier and Sarah Cogos. They explore how forest management could contribute to lichen pastures restoration in Fennoscandia thanks to prescribed burning.

Indeed, lichen is becoming a scarce resource for reindeers and one of the causes might be fire suppression which started in the 19th century in Northern Sweden. This decline is a threat to the Sami whose economy depends mainly on reindeer husbandry. Thus, to determine the potential benefits of a return of fire in the boreal forest, they build a model to simulate the long-term effects of the absence vs on the presence of fire on reindeer lichen (Cladonia spp.) pastures on a landscape scale. This model is based on silvicultural practices of Northern Sweden, on characteristics of a reindeer wintering area and on the ecology of reindeer lichens. It is expected to show that the long-term absence of fire lead to the loss of lichen-rich habitats at the landscape scale, and that specific prescribed fire regimes could reduce this loss. But who knows? We will see the results! Then, the final objective will be to use the model as a basis for discussions between herders and foresters on the role of fire in forestry as a potential solution to the loss of reindeer lichen pastures.

Top left: reindeer digging in the snow to find lichen; bottom left: Northern Sweden boreal forest; top right: forest after a prescribed fire; bottom right: reindeer lichen and blueberries (Vaccinium spp.).


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