Wildland fire management futures: insights from a foresight panel
Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-152. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 44 p.
Wildland fire management faces unprecedented challenges in the 21st century: the increasingly apparent effects of climate change, more people and structures in the wildland-urban interface, growing costs associated with wildfire management, and the rise of high-impact fires, to name a few. Given these significant and growing challenges, conventional fire management approaches are unlikely to be effective in the future. Innovative and forward-looking approaches are needed. This study explored wildland fire management futures by using methods and diverse perspectives from futures research. To gain foresight for wildland fire management, we convened a foresight panel consisting of seven leading academic and professional futurists outside of the wildfire community and two wildfire professionals. We engaged the panelists in a series of structured online discussions to elicit their insights and perspectives on the future of wildland fire management. There are five broad areas where the foresight panel members were in full agreement. (1) The level of uncertainty about external developments and future conditions that will set the context for wildland fire management is significantly greater than is recognized in current planning. (2) As conditions change, the traditional fire prevention and suppression approach to wildfire management will prove unsustainable. (3) A new fire resilience approach is emerging as an alternative to traditional viewpoints and practices. (4) All the major strategies needed to implement this approach are already familiar to wildfire managers. (5) There are strong short-term barriers to adopting the fire resilience approach, but the panelists believe its adoption is nearly inevitable between now and mid-century.
Keywordswildland fire management; futures; foresight panel; resilience; scenarios
Olson, Robert L.; Bengston, David N.; DeVaney, Leif A.; Thompson, Trevor A.C. 2015. Wildland fire management futures: insights from a foresight panel. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-152. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 44 p. https://doi.org/10.2737/NRS-GTR-152.