This spring, UTM will conduct a prescribed burn of a small parcel of land in its northeast section. The event, which will take a maximum of 50 minutes, will occur between March 20 and April 30, weather permitting.
Shrubs and small trees currently invade the 1.3-hectare flat savannah habitat. According to Professor Nick Collins of the Department of Biology and co-chair of the UTM/Evergreen Naturalization Steering Committee, a prescribed burn is the most effective way to encourage the growth of native grassland plants, remove non-native species and restore the meadowland character of the area.
“This prescribed burn is part of a professionally prepared long-term management plan designed to preserve and enhance part of UTM’s grassland habitat, which is an important resource for our teaching and research activities,” said Professor Collins. “Without active management, this area will continue to develop into a shrubland dominated by non-native invasive plant species.”
A prescribed burn is a deliberately set and carefully controlled low fire that consumes dried leaves, some seeds and small stems without harming larger trees. Professor Collins called it “a well-recognized, established method of managing the preservation and enhancement of certain ecosystems” that is used “scores of times each year in Canada.”
Professional firefighters will carry out the procedure according to established standards. The plans have been thoroughly reviewed by Mississauga Fire Department officials. Natural and man-made firebreaks will surround the burn site.
A professional fire boss will initiate the prescribed burn only after determining that both the combustibility of the fuel and the current weather are within prescribed limits. The burn may be postponed if the weather conditions vary significantly from predictions.
After the burn, the site will be monitored continuously until the professional fire boss declares the fire out. Regular operations of the University will not be affected