Frequently asked questions

Terra Nova National Park

Parks Canada is a world leader with more than 30 years of experience in using fire to naturally restore and maintain the ecological integrity of national parks and historic sites. Through safe and effective fire management, we are reducing the danger of wildfire to the public, infrastructure and neighbouring lands, while improving the ecological health of our forests and grasslands. Prescribed fires reduce fuel to lessen the severity of wildfires, release nutrients and allow for a mosaic of ecosystems that supports diverse plants and wildlife. When conducting prescribed fires, the safety of the public, our crews, park infrastructure and neighbouring lands is always Parks Canada’s number one priority.

  • What is prescribed fire?

    Prescribed fire is the controlled burning of forests, grasslands or other habitats to improve the quality of the ecosystem and reduce the potential for wildfires. This is an important resource conservation activity used by Parks Canada to protect and preserve the forests in national parks and national historic sites. Successful prescribed fires have been carried out across Canada, including in Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • What are the benefits of prescribed fires to the forest ecosystem and wildlife?

    Fire is a natural and necessary part of Terra Nova National Park’s black spruce forest. Fire helps recycle nutrients, assists plant reproduction and creates a diverse habitat that benefits a variety of wildlife. Prescribed fire can also remove debris from the ground and thin out forests, thereby improving the overall health of the forest and reducing the potential for wildfires. Some specific benefits of prescribed fire in Terra Nova National Park are listed below:

    • Fire creates a healthy, “patchy” forest containing a variety of vegetation types of varying age. This sort of habitat is attractive to a variety of wildlife.
    • Fire opens spruce cones to allow seed dispersal in the organic soil layer.
    • Fire reduces the depth of the organic layer within the black spruce forest. This improves spruce seeds’ access to mineral soil and removes competing species.
    • The berries that are abundant in recently-burned areas are an important food source for black bears.
    • Black bears, woodpeckers, and Olive-sided Fly Catchers are examples of the many species that benefit from recently-burned areas.
  • Why is it necessary to restore fire to forests in Terra Nova National Park?

    Forest fires are a natural part of the forest ecosystem in Newfoundland and Labrador. Fire history studies completed in Terra Nova National Park indicate that fire played an important role in the forest ecosystem for centuries. However, decades of fire suppression have adversely affected ecosystem health by not allowing fire to recycle nutrients within the forest. The result is an old, homogeneous forest with little new growth. Parks Canada staff use prescribed fire in a safe and effective manner to reverse these impacts and help improve the health of the forests in Terra Nova National Park.

  • How will Parks Canada communicate prescribed fire plans?

    Parks Canada notifies local communities and other interest groups of our plans to complete prescribed fire activities each summer. Parks Canada will meet with community councils and other representative groups upon request. If suitable conditions for the prescribed fire occur between July 15th and October 31st, Parks Canada will provide further notification to local communities. On the day of the prescribed fire, a notice will be issued to town councils via email and an information bulletin will be sent to local media. Information will also be posted on Terra Nova National Park’s Facebook Page and circulated through the @ParksCanadaNL twitter channel.

  • Will there be smoke?

    As a result of prescribed fire activities, smoke may be present in local communities. The extent of smoke and where it occurs will vary with the weather conditions at the time of the fire. Although the amount of smoke cannot be controlled, the light winds necessary to proceed with a prescribed fire and the remote location of the fire should limit the presence of smoke in communities. If smoke is present in any local communities, residents can take the following measures to minimize its effects:

    • Keep windows closed to limit the amount of smoke entering homes or businesses.
    • Any individuals who may have a medical issue that could be adversely affected should remain inside their home/dwelling during the period of time when smoke is most prevalent.
  • Where will the prescribed fire activities take place?

    This site is located in Terra Nova National Park’s Intermediate Fire Management Zone (please see “UNIT E” on the map below). Based on the Terra Nova National Park Fire Management Plan, prescribed fire is permitted in this zone at any time after July 15th.

  • Why was this site selected?

    Safety:This site is near the eastern edge of the park and almost entirely surrounded by ponds, streams and bogs. It is 11 km from the Trans Canada Highway, Newman Sound Campground and any communities within or near Terra Nova National Park. Prevailing winds should drive smoke toward the Park’s eastern coastline.

    Ecological Benefits: Evidence gathered from fire history studies shows that fire was present in the area historically and the site is largely composed of black spruce, which is a fire-dependent species.

Location of prescribed fire unit at Rattle Pond

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