Fire & Climate
Prescribed Fire-use treatments
The surge of extreme wildfires around the world, most recently in Canada, provides a frightening glimpse of the potential for intense fires driven by climate change to cause remarkable damage to human and environmental life. From 2019 to 2020, Australia experienced unprecedented wildfires (commonly referred to as bushfires), which increased the burned area by 800% relative to the 1988 to 2001 average (1). As well as causing dangerous “fire weather,” extreme heat combined with record low rainfall caused widespread dieback of vegetation, guaranteeing that wildland fuels burnt at maximal intensity (2). The societal and environmental impacts have spurred Australia to rethink wildfire management and work toward innovative solutions. This includes driving research into the effects of climate change on fire, optimizing approaches to prescribed burns, and leveraging Indigenous knowledge and expertise of Aboriginal communities. These approaches could prove vital not only for Australia but for managing extreme fires elsewhere in the world.