Practitioner perceptions of wildland fire management across South Europe and Latin America
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Wildfire presents a challenge to natural resource managers the world over, and the intentional setting of fires can be used to alleviate some of the challenges associated with wildfire management. Prescribed burning can be used prior to wildfires to reduce fuel loads and promote ecological integrity in fire-adapted systems, while suppression burning can help firefighters control the direction, extent, and intensity of wildfire behavior under extreme conditions. In both cases, the success of intentional fire use depends on training, knowledge, experience, and institutional and social support. The influence of these factors can significantly impact whether fire use is perceived as positive or negative, increasing or decreasing, and whether managers are supportive of its incorporation into their management planning and decision-making. Perceived impediments to fire use are likely to differ based on location, level of training and experience, and even the social context of fire management specific to different job positions in natural resource management. In order to explore how managers and stakeholders across the world perceive fire use, we surveyed over 700 respondents from 12 countries and three continents. This study represents the largest survey of perceptions on managed fire use ever conducted. Perceptions differed across age categories, job positions, and regions. Countries or regions with larger amounts of wildfire area burned tended to be more supportive of fire use for suppression, while countries with less wildfire had less positive perceptions of fire use for either prescribed or suppression burning. Bureaucracy and social perceptions were identified as impediments to using prescribed fire prior to wildfire occurrence, but neither were identified as impediments to fire use during suppression procedures. Across the countries, fire use in suppression was viewed more positively than prescribed fire use prior to wildfire occurrence.
Is part ofForests, 2016, vol. 7, núm. 184
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