Date: March 2, 2017
Presenter(s): Matthew P. Thompson
Description: The future of wildland fire management in the US entails increasing complexity, risk, and scrutiny, and it is clear that business-as-usual is unsustainable. New paradigms recognize a need to deemphasize fire exclusion, expand application of prescribed and managed natural fire, and foster resilience and adaptation to fire. Therefore how fires are managed—not just how landscapes are managed and communities respond before and after fires occur—is a key determinant of longterm socioecological resiliency and the ability to “live with fire.” In this presentation I will describe application of systems thinking principles to contemporary wildfire management issues in the U.S. and identify how their adoption could help improve performance of the fire management system. Key research questions include: (1) how can we better understand what characteristics of system structure drive behavior, and how can we redesign this system so that behavior better aligns with intended purpose; (2) how can we measure and improve the appropriate type of resilience of the fire management system; and (3) how can concepts and tools from risk and decision analysis help us get there. Ideally this line of research will yield insights that can lead to meaningful systemic change and improved fire management outcomes.