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Fire Ecology, 2015
Volume 11, Issue 3

Current International Perspectives on Wildland Fires, Mankind and the Environment
Author: Ernesto Alvarado
Pages: 149-152
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.1103149

Wildfires are a global issue.  This year’s fire season in North America and Asia emphasizes the need for fire sciences that can be applied by the international fire community.  Fire science is being developed mainly in a few countries.  It is heartening to see that Leblon and Alexander have embarked on the quest to disseminate some of that knowledge through their book, Current International Perspectives on Wildland Fires, Mankind and the Environment.  The title of this work is ambitious and creates high expectations.  Does the book live up to them?

Before the book arrived, I was hopeful that this could be an affordable one-stop source for learning about some of the human dimensions faced by the global fire community across the world, especially in the tropics.  I received the book before summer, when I was preparing for several professional trips to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Portugal, and to Brazil and Bolivia for discussion with research collaborators.  While I was gone, large wildfires occurred on the Indian reservations where I had planned summer work in my home state of Washington, USA.  I am not surprised that the fires in Canada and the western US were being covered by the international media in almost real time.  My colleagues in the countries I was visiting had trouble understanding why countries such as the US, with its good fire science and fire fighting resources, continue to have these large and destructive fires.  The questions always led to what lessons can be learned from the North American fires that can be applied to other countries with less developed fire sciences and minuscule resources.

I started reading the book between my trips and began searching for answers in it that could help my colleagues from the global fire community, where wildfires are mostly human caused, to increase their readiness for current and future fire seasons.  Most of these countries are signatories of international climate change agreements and, therefore, their CO2 emissions from wildfires are taken into account.  They also see an upcoming climate change meeting in Paris as an opportunity to bring fire management to the international stage.  This is the scenario I posed to myself as I read.  Does this book provide that help?

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