Researchers are questioning a practice promoted in recent years of allowing wildfires to burn, saying that it can be highly damaging in certain ecosystems. Two studies published in today’s issue of the journal Science indicate that in the Brazilian rainforest and California brushland, it’s better to fight fires. Up through the 1960s, the feds had a policy of suppressing naturally occurring fires, but in recent decades that policy changed to one of allowing fires to burn so that dry wood and leaves would not build up.

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