Skip to main content

How Does Fire Suppression Alter the Wildfire Regime? A Systematic Review

Year of Publication
Publication Type
Fire suppression has become a fundamental approach for shaping contemporary wildfire regimes. However, a growing body of research suggests that aggressive fire suppression can increase high-intensity wildfires, creating the wildfire paradox. Whether the strategy always triggers the paradox remains a topic of ongoing debate. The role of fire suppression in altering wildfire regimes in diverse socio-ecological systems and associated research designs demands a deeper understanding. To reconcile these controversies and synthesize the existing knowledge, a systematic review has been conducted to screen 974 studies on the relationship between fire suppression and wildfire regimes. The rigorous screening process led to the selection of 37 studies that met our stringent criteria for inclusion. The selected literature was quantitatively analyzed in terms of study areas, study design and methods, and the impact of fire suppression on wildfire regimes. Several critical findings were revealed: 1. Numerous studies have focused on northern mid- and high-latitude biomes, neglecting tropical savannas where wildfires are frequent and intense. Further exploration in these regions is imperative. 2. Existing studies have predominantly employed methods such as difference analysis, regression analysis, and scenario simulations. Appropriate methods could be selected based on the study area, data availability, and understanding of fire regimes. 3. Despite the consensus that fire suppression reduces the total burned area, the emergence of the wildfire paradox remains controversial, with approximately equal amounts of the literature supporting and contradicting the wildfire paradox. A noteworthy pattern was observed: the wildfire paradox is more likely to occur in fuel-limited systems, specific vegetation types, and smaller scale and longer term studies. This systematic review highlights that the occurrence of the wildfire paradox is intricately tied to ecosystem feedback mechanisms for suppression and the research scale adopted. It is necessary to incorporate a comprehensive and multi-scale assessment of how local wildlands respond to suppression into wildfire management policy-making processes. This assessment will ensure a more informed and effective wildfire management strategy adapted to local conditions.
Jiaying Hai, Ling Zhang, Cong Gao, Han Wang, and Jiansheng Wu
Hai, J.; Zhang, L.; Gao, C.; Wang, H.; Wu, J. How Does Fire Suppression Alter the Wildfire Regime? A Systematic Review. Fire 2023, 6, 424.
Publication Topics
Publication File