Prof. Jaime Matera
While wildfires are natural phenomena that occur in many different ecosystems, they have reached a new level of frequency and intensity on a global scale, as evidenced by the Australian wildfires of 2020, and the increasingly persistent hazard they present in the western United States and southern Canada on an annual basis. As a native Californian, it is impossible to overlook the increasing impact of wildfires, both in the wilderness and in the wildland-urban interface. The destruction wildfires leave in their wake has significant social, ecological, and economic costs. These include the loss of life, property and infrastructure, and hundreds of millions of dollars spent on fire suppression costs by government agencies annually. Since fire plays an integral part for many of our ecological landscapes, it’s clear that more adaptable and comprehensive fire management strategies are required to ensure ecological resilience across various fire regimes. This research examines the viability of more extensive application of traditional fire knowledge and practices used for millennia by indigenous peoples in order to achieve more effective fire management paradigms across the spectrum of ecologies both here in California and other places around the world where wildfires have increased in prevalence.