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Social dynamics of wildland fire in California [Chapter 27]

Posted date: December 14, 2018
Publication Year: 
2018
Authors: McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Duffner, Guy L.; Decker, Lynn M.
Publication Series: 
Book Chapter
Source: In: van Wagtendonk, Jan W.; Sugihara, Neil G.; Stephens, Scott L.; Thode, Andrea E.; Shaffer, Kevin E.; Fites-Kaufman, Jo Ann, eds. Fire in California's Ecosystems. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. p. 507-516.

Abstract

A useful question for managers to ask is: why do we care about understanding fire’s ecological processes? At a theoretical level, knowledge itself may be the goal. However, at a more practical level, funding and research interest tends to reflect a desire to understand how to manipulate ecological processes to favor one or several preferred management outcomes. Although nature is indifferent about whether fire leads to regrowth of existing species or to wholesale change to a different vegetation type, humans usually favor one outcome over another. Which outcomes are viewed as more or less desirable will depend on trade-offs between diverse human beliefs and values. Many disputes over land management practices, including fire, are due to fundamental differences in what various individuals, organizations, and cultures value and different views on how an ecological process might affect those values. A process that may be perceived as destructive by one person or group may be seen as constructive by others depending on the scale and timeframe each is considering and which value each cares most about - whether it is commodity production, recreation, ceremonial purposes, or habitat for a particular animal species. Although scientific knowledge of an ecological process can help inform management decisions, ultimately it is only one of numerous considerations.

Citation

McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Duffner, Guy L.; Decker, Lynn M. 2018. Social dynamics of wildland fire in California [Chapter 27]. In: van Wagtendonk, Jan W.; Sugihara, Neil G.; Stephens, Scott L.; Thode, Andrea E.; Shaffer, Kevin E.; Fites-Kaufman, Jo Ann, eds. Fire in California's Ecosystems. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. p. 507-516.
National Strategic Program Areas: 
Wildland Fire and Fuels