June 2017: Solsona, Catalonia, Spain

Fire has a profound influence on biodiversity but managing fire for biodiversity brings many challenges. Even when the science is sufficiently sophisticated it is not always sufficiently communicated to policy makers, managers and the general public. This means that people's values, environmental policy and political decisions relating to fire management often do not align with a fire regime that would conserve biodiversity. Developing generalities across ecosystems is important to establish transferrable rules but with the current state of knowledge this has potential to do more harm than good. For example, managing Mediterranean forests using principles from Northern Europe will not conserve biodiversity. The uncertainty and stochasticity that exists in flammable ecosystems also presents a major challenge. As much as we might try to manage fire, we will never have total control over fire.

These issues were discussed in depth at the Fire & Biodiversity Workshop in Solsona, led by Luke Kelly and Kate Giljohann of The University of Melbourne and Andrea Duane and Lluís Brotons of the Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia. I was delighted be among 25 fire scientists and managers from around the world working to integrate ecological science, policy, management and people's values into a framework for biodiversity conservation in flammable ecosystems. Stay tuned for  the output!