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Rethinking resilience to wildfire

Formally Refereed
Authors: David B. McWethy, Tania Schoennagel, Philip E. Higuera, Meg Krawchuk, Brian J. Harvey, Elizabeth C. Metcalf, Courtney Schultz, Carol Miller, Alexander L. Metcalf, Brian Buma, Arika Virapongse, Judith C. Kulig, Richard C. Stedman, Zak Ratajczak, Cara R. Nelson, Crystal Kolden
Year: 2019
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
Source: Nature Sustainability. doi: 10.1038/s41893-019-0353-8.


Record-breaking fire seasons are becoming increasingly common worldwide, and large wildfires are having extraordinary impacts on people and property, despite years of investments to support social-ecological resilience to wildfires. This has prompted new calls for land management and policy reforms as current land and fire management approaches have been unable to effectively respond to the rapid changes in climate and development patterns that strongly control fire behaviour and continue to exacerbate the risks and hazards to human communities. Promoting social-ecological resilience in rapidly changing, fire-susceptible landscapes requires adoption of multiple perspectives of resilience, extending beyond ‘basic resilience’ (or bouncing back to a similar state) to include ‘adaptive resilience’ and ‘transformative resilience’, which require substantial and explicit changes to social-ecological systems. Clarifying these different perspectives and identifying where they will be most effective helps prioritize efforts to better coexist with wildfire in an increasingly flammable world.


climate-change impacts, fire ecology, wildfires, adaptive resilience, transformative resilience, social-ecological resilience


McWethy, David B.; Schoennagel, Tania; Higuera, Philip E.; Krawchuk, Meg; Harvey, Brian J.; Metcalf, Elizabeth C.; Schultz, Courtney; Miller, Carol; Metcalf, Alexander L.; Buma, Brian; Virapongse, Arika; Kulig, Judith C.; Stedman, Richard C.; Ratajczak, Zak; Nelson, Cara R.; Kolden, Crystal. 2019. Rethinking resilience to wildfire. Nature Sustainability. doi: 10.1038/s41893-019-0353-8.