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    Description

    Wildland fires are a critical Earth-system process that impacts human populations in each settled continent [1,2]. Wildland fires have often been stated as being essential to human life and civilization through the impacts on land clearance, agriculture, and hunting, with fire as a phenomenon serving a key role in the development of agricultural and industrial practices [3,4]. Wildland fires facilitate the redistribution of carbon, water, and nutrients, while unburned refugia within burned area perimeters promote the preservation of key species and habitats [5]. Injected into this socioecological fabric of fire as a landscape process are its immediate and cascading consequences on human health [6], impacts on a wide gamut of ecosystem goods and services [7,8], and consequences on large-scale atmospheric chemistry [9]. The cascading consequences of wildland fires have been recognized to have direct and indirect impacts on several downstream processes including erosion, food and fiber systems, and energy production, as well as the co-occurrence of other natural disasters such as mudslides [3,10]. To this day, wildland fires are events of social and ecological concern that frequently occupy the news media in their immediate aftermath. The immediate and cascading impacts of wildland fires on human communities was recently brought into sharp focus in northern California, USA, where the 2017 Thomas Fire was soon followed by heavy rains and devastating mudslides; disaster co-occurrences like this are only projected to increase [2,11-13]. Prescribed fires and other stand management approaches are being widely considered as actions to potentially mitigate the severity and impacts of future unplanned fires [14, 15].

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    Citation

    Smith, Alistair M. S.; Lutz, James A.; Hoffman, Chad M.; Williamson, Grant J.; Hudak, Andrew T. 2018. Preface: Special issue on wildland fires. Land. 7: 46.

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    Keywords

    wildland fires, prescribed fires, stand management

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