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Fire Ecology, 2014
Volume 10, Issue 3

Making a World of Difference in Fire and Climate Change
Author: Mary R. Huffman
Pages: 90-101
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.1003090

Together with other stressors, interactions between fire and climate change are expressing their potential to drive ecosystem shifts and losses in biodiversity. Closely linked to human well-being in most regions of the globe, fires and their consequences should no longer be regarded as repeated surprise events. Instead, we should regard fires as common and enduring components of most terrestrial systems, including their social context. At the global scale, too much fire and the wrong kinds of fire are trumping not enough fire as the most influential fire problems we must address. Intensified fire suppression and government prohibition of burning is not a long-term solution at the global scale. Acknowledging the importance of programs to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, I propose that fire ecologists come together to elevate attention on four less-discussed priorities: ecological systems in which people depend on fire for survival and well-being; systems in which governments unwisely insist on command and control approaches to fire; places where peatlands are burning; and, places where climate-driven changes in fire will cause type conversion. Finally, I propose holding a worldwide fire summit to debate these priorities and to create fire management goals at the global scale. Taken all together, these proposed steps could enable fire ecologists to mount a worldwide offensive to shape the future of fire in the era of climate change.

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