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  • Dan Powers

Forest Service RMRS Research Proposes Transformative Wildfire Management

Numerous wildfire management agencies and institutions rely primarily on simple risk approaches to wildfire that focus on technical risk assessments that do not reflect the complexity of contemporary wildfire risk.

Scientists, researchers and stakeholders of the US. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station have released a thoughtful review paper arguing that such insufficiently complex conceptualizations of risk, which do not account for the social and ecological diversity of fire-prone areas, are key contributors to the continued wildfire dilemma. They share five principles to guide approaching wildfire as a complex risk to increase adaptation to and coexistence with wildfire.

Their report discusses distinctions between approaching wildfire as a simple and a complex risk and illuminate the need for expanded and complimentary ways to further fire adaptation. Read more>>>

Five suggestions are proposed in this study to shift the approach of wildfire from a simple to complex risk approach to build solutions that increase adapting to and coexisting with wildfire. These principles provide a pathway to looking at wildfire risk as not something to be “solved” but an iterative approach that facilitates living with fire and improving outcomes by accounting for the social (and ecological) diversity of fire-prone landscapes.

Such efforts are more likely to yield socially relevant and legitimate strategies for building wildfire adapted communities by recognizing and accounting for the complexities of wildfire governance amongst a variety of stakeholders who may operate at various scales using different knowledge systems.

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