Tuesday, 18 November 2003: 5:00 PM
Integrating Fire Ecology, Fire Science and Fire Management to Maintain and Restore Appropriate Fire Regimes in the Tropics
Ronald Myers, The Nature Conservancy, Tallahassee, FL
As we have seen in this Special Session on fire regimes in tropical environments, the alteration of fire regimes is a significant threat to biodiversity and human livelihoods in a wide-variety of tropical ecosystems, both fire-maintained and fire-sensitive. There are manifold approaches to restoring and maintaining appropriate fire regimes in these environments, but success will depend on developing new knowledge; interpreting that knowledge in a form understandable to practitioners, policy makers and communities who are grappling with fire issues and fire threats; disseminating that information in a useable form; and providing resources for implementation. Research is needed in fire behavior, fire effects, and fire regimes that leads to the development of useful prediction tools and restoration responses. Programs and strategies to deal with fire have to be developed in ways that include the cultural and social contexts in which fire is occurring or fire is being used. Environments that are experiencing too much fire require community-based strategies that reduce ignitions and fire spread. Preparedness for inevitable unwanted fires needs to integrate national/multi-national responses with local community involvement.
Fire-related threats cannot be effectively addressed at a significant scale without structured learning strategies. As an example, The Nature Conservancy and its partners are using Fire Learning Networks as a mechanism to effectively join forces with conservation organizations, conservation area managers, government agencies, community leaders, and scientists to achieve mutual goals related to fire by identifying common needs and barriers to implementation, and by developing and identifying strategies that are likely to succeed in a diversity of situations. By fostering synthesis and shared experiences, learning networks not only communicate existing knowledge but also, by adapting it to different situations, provide a catalysis for new knowledge.