Fire and sustainability: considerations for California’s altered future climate

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Moritz, Max and Stephens, Scott
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In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, actions to achieve a sustainable coexistence with wildfire need to be taken now. In this paper we suggest several important policy, planning, and management changes that should be made, regardless of the many uncertainties in predicting future fire regimes. Similar to how other natural hazards are addressed, a risk-based framework for fire-related decisions is crucial. Reintroduction of fire to fire-prone ecosystems, careful use of fire surrogates, and creation of new and flexible policies will be needed for successful ecosystem management. Growing incompatibilities between urban development and wildfire also require a serious reevaluation of urban planning and building in fire-prone locations to reach a sustainable coexistence with fire. Our future cities and communities must be less susceptible to wildfire damage, and the ecosystems upon which we depend must be made more resilient to further disruptions in fire regimes.


Moritz, M., and S. Stephens. 2008. Fire and sustainability: considerations for California’s altered future climate. Climatic Change 87:265–271. doi: 10.1007/s10584-007-9361-1.