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Global wildland fire management research needs

Author(s): Peter F. Moore
Year Published: 2019

Purpose of Review: This review is on global wildland fire management research needs from the standpoint of 'integrated fire management'. It seeks to apply a characterisation of fires to frame research needs, and also recognise some differences in research needs between 'normal wildfires' and 'extreme wildfire events' and draw some distinctions between the needs for developing and developed countries.

Recent Findings: In the past, the dominant approach to fires in developed countries has been to suppress them including prohibition of fire use. In developing countries, the approach has tended to be similar. However, fires are a landscape problem in both developed and developing contexts, not resulting from insufficient or inadequate means of suppression, but from fuel continuity and accumulation. The impacts of fires are becoming higher profile, due to sizes and intensity in part but also from land use and demographic changes and their interactions, which see more people, more assets and ecological and economic values affected and publicised. Not fully appreciating the ecological role, impact, social, cultural and economic context in which fires are occurring, and the contributing factors and underlying causes of the fire problem, has seen planning, policy, development and other influences, alter landscapes and made populations increasingly vulnerable. Key to successfully integrating ecology, society and fire management technologies is effective analysis of the situation. This requires strengthened focus, including through use of social science and related disciplines. Damaging fires suggest that suppression alone is not sufficient to deal with wildfire, with the damage and loss that results in some cases being catastrophic. The implications of the limits of suppression need to be a component for planning risk reduction, readiness, response and of research. Similarly, comprehensive analyses and figures for damage and losses, including suppression costs, would have implications for wildland fire planning and investment. Existing research findings need to be applied and further research undertaken as necessary.

Summary: Application to wildland fire management globally of existing research, and further research as needed, is required to analyse, select appropriate strategies, and apply management, monitor implementation and enable continuous improvement to reduce vulnerability and underpin resilience. This approach is termed “integrated fire management” and is particularly valuable for developing countries. For them, there may be the potential to reduce or avoid the wildfire damage and loss trends experienced in developed countries, through development and application of what has already been researched and operationalised in other contexts.

Citation: Moore, Peter F. 2019. Global wildland fire management research needs. Current Forestry Reports 5(4):210-225.
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Fire Effects, Management Approaches
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 20602
FRAMES RCS number: 60521
Record updated: Jan 7, 2020