Background:
Forests set aside from productive forestry are often considered best conserved by non-intervention. However, biodiversity is often maintained in natural forests by a background level of disturbance, which, in some forests, takes the form of forest fires. Set-aside forests may therefore benefit from continuation of such disturbances, which, in forests under protection, must be managed anthropogenically. While the effects of prescribed burning on tree regeneration and on pyrophilous and/or saproxylic species in some regions are well known, effects on other organisms are less clear and/or consistent. It would be valuable to broaden the knowledge of how prescribed burning affects forest biodiversity, particularly because this practice is increasingly considered as a conservation management intervention. The primary aim of the proposed systematic review is to clarify how biodiversity is affected by prescribed burning in temperate and boreal forests. The ultimate purpose of the review is to investigate whether and how such prescribed burning may be useful as a means of conserving or restoring biodiversity, beyond that of pyrophilous and saproxylic species, in forest set-asides. Methods:
The review will examine primary field studies of how prescribed burning affects biodiversity in boreal and temperate forests. We will consider studies made in such forests anywhere in the world, and will include forests both in protected areas and under commercial management. Non-intervention will be used as a comparator. Relevant outcomes will include a range of measures of biodiversity, including abundance and diversity, but not of pyrophilous and saproxylic species. Relevant studies will be taken from a recent systematic map of the evidence on biodiversity impacts of active management in forests set aside for conservation or restoration. Additional searches and a search update will be undertaken in a subset of databases from the systematic map, using a search string targeted to identify studies focused on prescribed burning interventions. Searches for additional literature will be made in the bibliographies of existing reviews of forest burning. Traditional academic literature and grey literature in English, French, Swedish and Finnish will be considered. Stakeholders who engage in prescribed burning will be asked to provide relevant grey literature.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Biodiversity, Boreal forest, Disturbance legacy, Forest conservation, Forest reserve, Forest restoration, Forest set-aside, Habitat management, Prescribed burning, Temperate forest
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13750-016-0076-5
Journal Environmental Evidence
Citation
Eales, J. (Jacqualyn), Haddaway, N.R. (Neal R.), Bernes, C. (Claes), Cooke, S.J, Jonsson, B.G. (Bengt Gunnar), Kouki, J. (Jari), & Petrokofsky, G. (Gill). (2016). What is the effect of prescribed burning in temperate and boreal forest on biodiversity, beyond tree regeneration, pyrophilous and saproxylic species? A systematic review protocol. Environmental Evidence, 5(1), 1–8. doi:10.1186/s13750-016-0076-5