Making a Dakota Fire Hole is initially more labor intensive than simply building a fire on the surface of the ground. However the outlay in energy required to make a Dakota fire hole is more than offset by its efficient consumption of fuel; it greatly reduces the amount of firewood required to cook meals, treat water to destroy pathogens, or warm your body.
The Dakota fire hole is a valuable wilderness survival aid because it burns fuel more efficiently, producing hotter fires with less wood. In many areas firewood is scarce or requires a large amount of time and expenditure of energy in foraging to obtain it. Once you build a fire, efforts are better spent attending to your other wilderness survival needs rather than in the constant gathering of firewood.
Other advantages of the Dakota fire hole are that it creates a kind of woodstove with a stable platform that is very convenient to cook over.