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The Gateway is for the conservation practitioner, scientist and decision-maker. Here we share the best and most up-to-date information we use to inform our work at The Nature Conservancy.

Fire, Ecosystems and People: Threats and Strategies for Global Biodiversity Conservation


​The Global Fire Partnership, launched in 2004, includes The Nature Conservancy, World Conservation Union (IUCN), University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Fire Research and Outreach, and WWF. The GFP recognizes the need to assess the state of the world’s fire regimes, craft effective conservation strategies, and build a global constituency of partners to address fire as a conservation issue. This report summarizes new findings on the current role and status of fire around the globe, and discusses related consequences for people and ecosystems. We review the main causes of “altered fire regimes” as well as some similarities and differences among the major regions of the globe, also known as “realms.”

The Global Fire Partnership released its original report on the role and status of fire, Fire Ecosystems and People: A Preliminary Assessment, at the World Conservation Congress in 2004. It made a compelling case that altered fire regimes represent a high-priority, global conservation issue. This second repo it is a more in-depth synthesis of more recent findings. It includes results for many areas not assessed in the original report, as well as new and expanded information on the causes of altered fire ecology, and recommendations for needed actions. This report describes some specific steps countries and organizations can take today to improve human safety and health, while allowing fire to play its natural role where appropriate. A number of callout boxes included throughout illustrate key points, such as the changing role of fire in wet tropical forests, and present more detailed information on assessment methods and specific conservation strategies.

The first section of the report discusses fire in the context of environmental sustainability and explains fire’s complex relationships with other issues such as climate change, land use change and invasive species. The second section explains the various roles that fire can play in ecosystems, including how human-caused ignitions fit into the picture. After the methods chapter we present the key findings of the assessment and then discuss the top five threats to maintaining the ecological role of fire. Case studies from southern Chile and Indonesia illustrate how these threats appear to be manifesting similarly and differently in different places. The final section discusses the benefits of Integrated Fire Management and calls for a number of specific actions based on the assessment findings.

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