An estimated 84 percent of areas that are important for conservation are at risk from too much, too little or the wrong kind of fire. There are a number of steps that communities and governments can take to prevent or mitigate the social and ecological consequences of altered fire regimes. Focusing on decision-makers and citizens, The Nature Conservancy is pursuing a number of strategies designed to raise awareness about the importance of fire as a conservation issue.
Communicating about the Ecological Role of Fire
Public understanding of the ecological role of fire, and the ways in which humans are changing that role, is vital to accomplishing our mission. The Nature Conservancy has a U.S. Fire Education Program that works with federal and state agencies, tribes and local communities to educate the public about the natural role of fire. Our fire education work is part of a larger project dubbed Promoting Ecosystem Resiliency through Collaboration.
Developing Supportive Public Policy
Over the years, the Conservancy has engaged in several efforts to educate and influence multi-lateral and national institutions about the natural role of fire and interactions between fire and climate change, invasives and other factors.
In 2006 Conservancy staff worked with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and many other governmental and non-governmental organizations to develop global principles and strategic actions for international cooperation for fire management. Formerly known as the “Fire Code”, these principles represent a set of voluntary, cross-sectoral and international guiding principles to address the cultural, social, environmental and economic challenges of fire management. The document includes concepts from the Conservancy’s Integrated Fire Management framework.
In the United States, one of our approaches is to inform the implementation of national policies such as the FLAME Act and the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act. We also work with agencies and other decision-makers and encourage them to shift some of the resources that are currently used for fire suppression to restoration activities such as controlled burning and mechanical removal of overgrown brush and trees.