rural fires

Wild fires a hot issue around the world

Wildfires are a regular concern in rural New Zealand, and they can cost us around $100 million a year.

Research published last month in Nature Communications suggests that wildfires may be on the increase globally, as a result of climate change.  Looking at trends from 1979 to 2013, the authors state that,

“fire weather seasons have lengthened across 29.6 million km2 (25.3%) of the Earth’s vegetated surface, resulting in an 18.7% increase in global mean fire weather season length and … a doubling (108.1%increase) of global burnable area affected by long fire weather seasons.”

They also warn:

“If these fire weather changes are coupled with ignition sources and available fuel, they could markedly impact global ecosystems, societies, economies and climate.”

John Bailey, Associate Professor of Silviculture and Fire Management at Oregon State University acknowledges this increase in this 11 August article.  He raises the issue of “good” wildfire versus “bad” wildfire, and argues the need for active management of fire in forests, if this global trend is to be contained and managed.