Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    Desertification, caused by land degradation as opposed to the immediate creation of classical deserts, is of prime concern in the 21st century. As a result of human activities and climate change, the land loses its proper hydrologic function and biological productivity. Desertification affects 33 % of the earth's surface and over a billion people. Fire-related desertification has a number of environmental, social, and economic consequences. The two key environmental consequences are soil erosion and non-native plant invasions. Erosion after wildland fires can be in the range of <1 Mg ha-1 to 370 Mg ha-1, depending on fire severity, degree of water repellency, slope, and post-fire rainfall events. Soil losses in the high end of that range definitely exceed soil loss tolerances and contribute to desertification. Non-native plants are typically ten times as abundant on landscapes burned by wildland fires than on unburned lands. Seeding has been used for many years as a prime Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) treatment. Until recently, this seeding contributed to non-native plant invasions because fast-growing but non native plant seeds were used. The use of native plant seeds and sterile hybrids has reduced this problem somewhat. However, even certified weed-free seed lots have low percentages of non-native plant seeds. Recent use of wet and dry mulches have contributed to reduced post-wildland fire erosion rates, but they are quite expensive. This paper examines post-wildland fire desertification and the capabilities of BAER treatments to deal with this growing problem.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Neary, Daniel G. 2009. Post-wildland fire desertification: Can rehabilitation treatments make a difference? Fire Ecology. 5(1): 129-144.


    Burned Area Emergency Response, desertification, non-native plants, soil erosion, wildland fire

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page