Re-Envisioning Wildland Fire Governance: Addressing the Transboundary, Uncertain, and Contested Aspects of Wildfire

TitleRe-Envisioning Wildland Fire Governance: Addressing the Transboundary, Uncertain, and Contested Aspects of Wildfire
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsMiller, BAlan, Yung, L, Wyborn, C, Essen, M, Gray, B, R.Williams, D
Date Published04/2022
Keywordsanticipatory governance, collaborative governance, governance, risk governance, technical reports and journal articles, transboundary, wildfire risk

Wildfire is a complex problem because of the diverse mix of actors and landowners involved, uncertainty about outcomes and future conditions, and unavoidable trade-offs that require ongoing negotiation. In this perspective, we argue that addressing the complex challenge of wildfire requires governance approaches designed to fit the nature of the wildfire problem. For instance, while wildfire is often described as a cross-boundary problem, understanding wildfire risk as transboundary highlights important political and institutional challenges that complicate collaboration across jurisdictions and shared stewardship. Transboundary risk requires collaborative governance that attends to the distribution of power, authority, and capacity across the range of actors relevant to particular fire-prone landscapes. Wildfire is also changing in unprecedented ways and multiple, interacting uncertainties make predicting future wildfires difficult. Anticipatory governance can build our capacity to integrate uncertainty into wildfire decision-making and manage risk in proactive ways. Finally, competing interests and values mean that trade-offs are inherent to the wildfire problem. Risk governance links science and society through deliberative, participatory processes that explicitly navigate tradeoffs and build legitimacy for actions to address wildfire risk. Governance approaches that better target the nature of the wildfire problem will improve our ability to coexist with fire today and in the future.