Fire managers from Colombia, South America, and Zambia, Africa, toured projects on the Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests in mid-April as part of the International Fire Management Staff Exchange hosted by The Nature Conservancy–Arkansas Chapter.
The exchange is part of the Fire Learning Network. The exchange assists international fire management partners in the continued development of fire ecology, fire management planning and specific skills associated with controlled burning and application in woodland and savanna ecosystems in Arkansas. Similarities in the woodland and savanna ecosystems found in Zambia, Colombia and Arkansas, allowed participants to gain important hands-on skills necessary for managing these unique ecosystems.
Members of the international delegation visited sites on Arkansas’ national forests where fire is being used as an ecological management tool for increasing biodiversity and for maintaining sustainable resources; including wildlife management. The Shortleaf Pine-Bluestem restoration project on the Ouachita National Forest, and Bearcat Hollow, an oak woodland restoration area on the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests served as the backdrop for learning.
The staff exchange provided opportunities to improve key fire messaging, review the prescribed and “early burning’ planning process, discuss Fire Management Plans, develop fire management goals and objectives for savanna management as well as providing insight into building and maintaining internal and external partnerships.
International staff representing Department of Natural Resources, Zambia Environmental Management Agency, Zambia Department of Forestry, The Nature Conservancy–Colombia and Zambia Country Programs participated, as did representatives from TNC–Arkansas and the Forest Service.