By Dr. Joseph Veldman, Texas A&M University

Presented on January 25, 2022



Old-growth grasslands are ecosystems of high conservation value that form over long periods of time through interactions of fire and herbivores with herbaceous plant communities. Unlike old-growth forests, which are recognized and valued by scientists the public, old-growth grasslands (including many savannas and open canopy woodlands) are often misinterpreted as degraded forests or early successional vegetation. Misperceptions about old-growth grasslands contribute to their high rates of conversion to agriculture or tree plantations, as well as their degradation through woody encroachment. Because old-growth savannas of the tropics require frequent fires, savanna and forest conservation might appear to be at odds. Results of a long-term experiment in lowland Bolivia suggests that attention to prescribed fire season may help reconcile the need for fire in savannas with the need to protect tropical forests from destructive wildfires.