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Current International Perspectives on Wildland Fires, Mankind and the Environment. 2015. Edited by Brigitte Leblon and Martin E. Alexander. Nova Science Publishers Inc., Hauppauge, New York, USA. 271 pp. Hardcover. US$166.50. ISBN: 978-1-63463-682-7

Current International Perspectives on Wildland Fires, Mankind and the Environment. 2015. Edited... Alvarado: Current International Perspectives Fire Ecology Volume 11, Issue 3, 2015 Page 149 doi: 10.4996/fireecology.1103149 Book Review Current International Perspectives on Wildland I started reading the book between my trips Fires, Mankind and the Environment. 2015. and began searching for answers in it that Edited by Brigitte Leblon and Martin E. Alex- could help my colleagues from the global fire ander. Nova Science Publishers Inc., Haup- community, where wildfires are mostly human pauge, New York, USA. 271 pp. Hardcover. caused, to increase their readiness for current US$166.50. ISBN: 978-1-63463-682-7. and future fire seasons. Most of these coun- tries are signatories of international climate Wildfires are a global issue. This year’s change agreements and, therefore, their CO fire season in North America and Asia empha - emissions from wildfires are taken into ac- sizes the need for fire sciences that can be ap- count. They also see an upcoming climate plied by the international fire community. Fire change meeting in Paris as an opportunity to science is being developed mainly in a few bring fire management to the international countries. It is heartening to see that Leblon stage. This is the scenario I posed to myself as and Alexander have embarked on the quest to I read. Does this book provide that help? disseminate some of that knowledge through My first impression upon receiving the their book, Current International Perspectives book was disappointment with the hardcover on Wildland Fires, Mankind and the Environ- price, which makes it too costly for the intend- ment. The title of this work is ambitious and ed global audience. Over the years, I have creates high expectations. Does the book live seen many fire-related books that have been up to them? Before the book arrived, I was hopeful that this could be an affordable one-stop source for learning about some of the human dimensions faced by the global fire community across the world, especially in the tropics. I received the book before summer, when I was preparing for several professional trips to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Portugal, and to Brazil and Boliv- ia for discussion with research collaborators. While I was gone, large wildfires occurred on the Indian reservations where I had planned summer work in my home state of Washing- ton, USA. I am not surprised that the fires in Canada and the western US were being cov- ered by the international media in almost real time. My colleagues in the countries I was visiting had trouble understanding why coun- tries such as the US, with its good fire science and fire fighting resources, continue to have these large and destructive fires. The ques- tions always led to what lessons can be learned from the North American fires that can be ap- plied to other countries with less developed fire sciences and minuscule resources. Alvarado: Current International Perspectives Fire Ecology Volume 11, Issue 3, 2015 Page 150 doi: 10.4996/fireecology.1103149 published but have a small international distri- the decline of forest health in most of the re- bution. I am afraid this book will run the same gion. The chapter’s main focus is on the course and miss being read by the intended au- southern US and Australia. Undoubtedly, dience. Additionally, for the cost, I expected there is no one better than Dale Wade to dis- higher quality graphics. The graphics are so cuss fire in the southern US, where he was a fuzzy that one cannot see what the authors in- pioneer of fire research. His understanding tended to convey. In this area, I give the book and experience of the region is well expressed 2.5 out of 5 stars. in this chapter. In Current Perspectives, Leblon and Alex- The Australian fire story is similar to the ander have brought together several authors for United States. It starts with a European set- a “smorgasbord” approach from the Americas, tler’s misunderstanding of the fire culture and Australia, and Africa. The nine chapters have traditions of Aborigines, a policy of fire exclu- no unified theme (in contrast to the majority of sion, a wildland-urban interface fire crisis, and recent fire books), nor does the book take a the restructuring of fire policies. The authors comprehensive textbook approach. Instead, present their ideas for a path forward in the US the chapters cover a wide array of topics writ- and their views on how to increase or restore ten by authors with a range of different levels fire regimes in the landscapes, and they intro- of experience, from veteran researchers to duce the reader to a successful case of emerging scientists. The topics are discrete but multi-stakeholder collaboration in southern organized in a way that the reader can start at Florida to reintroduce fire. any chapter of the book depending on interest. Chapter 2 on remote sensing is written by In the first chapter, Dale Wade and others authors from three countries; the common uni- remind us that the concept of fire regime is ap- fier is satellite technology. Leblon and col- plicable to all the world’s ecosystems. They leagues review the use of satellite technology use an early publication by The Nature Con- for monitoring pre- and post-fire conditions. servancy to discuss the distribution of fire re- Satellite technology has been seen as a pana- gimes in global ecosystems. One might think cea for monitoring wildfires, but this technolo - that the most common classification of fire re- gy has only slowly made it to mainstream gimes in the United States (low, mixed, and wildfire applications. The chapter concen - high severity) is perhaps too western US-cen- trates on the North American and European tric. Nevertheless, for most ecosystems, this experiences of using optical, thermal infrared, system works fine. The framework used by and radar images. It is unfortunate that the re- Wade and colleagues in this chapter is applied mote sensing science developed by Brazil was to ecosystems beyond the western US. The not a part of the review. Brazil’s satellite tech- authors take us on a fire regime tour of North nology is being applied in tropical systems, America, but restrict the fire regime discussion where it is more challenging to develop simi- mostly to the US and pre- and post-European lar tools than in temperate systems. The chap- settlement in the West. They present an inter- ter emphasizes fuel moisture detection, weath- esting discussion of fire regimes influenced by er conditions, fuel types, and topography for Native Americans, but fail to acknowledge monitoring pre-fire conditions based mainly that major drivers of fire regime change were on the use of optical and thermal infrared im- the Indian treaties that practically removed agery and, more recently, radar. Most of the Native Americans from most US landscapes contribution of satellites to fire management during the mid-nineteenth century. The cessa- has been for fire detection. Several systems tion of Indian burning and the ensuing Eu- have been implemented by many countries us- ro-American settlement in the West initiated ing technology based on detection of hot spots. Alvarado: Current International Perspectives Fire Ecology Volume 11, Issue 3, 2015 Page 151 doi: 10.4996/fireecology.1103149 Many of the initial problems have been from the province of Alberta, Canada, because worked out and the technology is reaching ma- of a serious injury in 1995. The chapter re- turity. Multiple satellite sensors are used for views the background of LCES, in addition to burnt area mapping. Post-fire mapping is a the 10 standard orders and the 18 watch-out pressing need in fire management, assessment situations in fire fighting. The authors suggest of environmental effects, and ecosystem resto- that adding the “A” will improve the safety of ration. Certainly, the remote sensing commu- fire fighters. nity has made tremendous progress from the After approximately 100+ years of orga- early days of three decades ago. The authors nized fire fighting in the world, we still rely on recognize that ground validation appears to be human labor for fire fighting. Nevertheless, the most important challenge that needs to be the work of fire fighters is made easier when addressed before remote sensing is fully em- appropriate technology is incorporated in fire braced by fire managers. management tools. In Chapter 5, Cassandra In Chapter 3, M.C. Dentoni and colleagues Hansen and colleagues present to the reader present the case of adoption of the Canadian the use of geographical information systems Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS) (GIS) and the more recent cloud-based GIS to as a fire management tool for Argentina. The support fire management. A case study of the need for a system of fire danger rating has Silver Fire in California, USA, is used to make been expressed in several international confer- the point of the importance of GIS in fire sup- ences. The major systems in the world are pression. Undoubtedly, more and better infor- based on the US National Fire Danger Rating mation is expected to improve the efficiency System, the Canadian CFFDRS, the Australian of fire management. Geographical informa- MacArthur Index, and the Russian Nesterov tion systems have become the tools that the Index. One way or another, all these systems new generation of fire managers must have, are pursuing the same goal. In this chapter, I along with remote sensing. Fire fighting will find interesting the experience that Argentina continue to depend on people to fight fires, but went through with their adoption and adapta- they will be safer and better equipped to do tion of the CFFDRS to a country with such di- their job if new and appropriate technology is versityfrom the Andes, to the Equator, and incorporated by fire managers. Personally, I to the colder systems in Patagonia and Tierra feel that this chapter is too short and so del Fuego. The adjustments, implementation, case-driven that it is difficult to follow. pilot testing, and extrapolation to larger areas In Chapter 6, Gavriil Xanthopoulos writes are worth examining. After 15 years of initial on fire fighter safety issues in Greece. He work, the system is used in almost two thirds presents a review of fatalities in wildfires in of the country. This chapter is worth reading Greece, the lessons learned, and how to im- by managers of countries interested in having prove safety of fire fighters. Most of the fatali - their own fire danger rating system. The Ar - ties reported in this chapter occurred from gentinian experience tells us a story of many 1977 to 2013. According to Xanthopoulos, challenges faced by scientists and managers fire prevention and better training are the keys when developing a fire danger system. to avoiding fatalities. Greece’s case is not In Chapter 4, Martin Alexander and Wil- unique, though, and the chapter needed to liam Thorburn introduce an “A” to the acro- make a stronger call for a professional fire nym LCES (Lookout-Communications-Escape fighting cadre that will be adequately trained. Routes-Safety Zones), a standard in the US Unfortunately, countries that depend on civil- federal government fire agencies: adding An- ian volunteers will continue experiencing acci- chor Points (A). This stems from a proposal dents and fatalities. Alvarado: Current International Perspectives Fire Ecology Volume 11, Issue 3, 2015 Page 152 doi: 10.4996/fireecology.1103149 Chapters 7 and 8 are my favorites in the with the Greek case, fire fighter training is key book. Guillermo Defossé and colleagues pres- to improving fire fighting safety. ent a nice review of fire ecology and manage - This book has important lessons to teach. ment in Patagonia. I am glad that these au- One is that, after someone retires from a pro- thors have taken a leadership role in fire ecolo - ductive professional life, there is much knowl- gy and management in this richly biodiverse edge that can be shared. The fire science com- region. The chapter takes the reader on a his- munity should recognize the effort that Alex- torical tour of fire from Triassic to modern ander and Wade have invested in editing the times. Their description of ecology and fires book and authoring two chapters. We should sparks the reader’s interest in visiting the re- appreciate their selflessness in sharing their gion and learning more about fire ecology. experience and knowledge since retiring. Chapter 8, by Carlos Kunst and others, covers The book itself has several inconsistencies. the fire ecology and management of the Argen- Some chapters are deeper than others. The tine Chaco, although the Gran Chaco covers book presents unbalanced treatments of some an extensive area from Argentina through Bo- important topics that are only occasionally livia, Paraguay, and Brazil. The description of mentioned. I wish some chapters were consec- the Chaco’s ecosystems, fire regimes, ecologi- utive, for instance Greece and South Africa, or cal effects, and fire management can be appli - perhaps they should have been merged to avoid cable to the other regions in South America. repetition and enrich the discussion by compar- This type of information is missing for most of ing and contrasting their experiences. Bolivia and Paraguay, and only Brazil has in- At the end, some questions still linger. vested in studying this important ecosystem. What about tropical fires? There is a huge gap The shortness of this chapter reflects the many of knowledge regarding tropical fires that knowledge gaps for fires in the Gran Chaco. I would improve the understanding and man- hope that this young group of academics and agement of fires in Indonesia, Brazil, Central scientists can become leaders in fire ecology in America, and other tropical countries. I find South America. also that discussion of human dimensions is The book closes with Chapter 9, which is a shortchanged in the book. My overall rating recapitulation of fire-related casualties in for the book is 3.5 stars out 5. The book is South Africa. This chapter has many things in worth reading, but one can always wait for the common with Chapter 6; perhaps they should paperback version. have been one chapter, or put in sequence. Cornelis De Ronde presents a historical review Ernesto Alvarado, School of Environmental of the casualties and causes since 1994. In and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, South Africa, the Incident Command System Seattle, Washington 98195, USA. alvarado@ has been introduced in fire management. As uw.edu http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Fire Ecology Springer Journals

Current International Perspectives on Wildland Fires, Mankind and the Environment. 2015. Edited by Brigitte Leblon and Martin E. Alexander. Nova Science Publishers Inc., Hauppauge, New York, USA. 271 pp. Hardcover. US$166.50. ISBN: 978-1-63463-682-7

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s) 2015
Subject
Life Sciences; Ecology
eISSN
1933-9747
DOI
10.4996/fireecology.1103149
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Alvarado: Current International Perspectives Fire Ecology Volume 11, Issue 3, 2015 Page 149 doi: 10.4996/fireecology.1103149 Book Review Current International Perspectives on Wildland I started reading the book between my trips Fires, Mankind and the Environment. 2015. and began searching for answers in it that Edited by Brigitte Leblon and Martin E. Alex- could help my colleagues from the global fire ander. Nova Science Publishers Inc., Haup- community, where wildfires are mostly human pauge, New York, USA. 271 pp. Hardcover. caused, to increase their readiness for current US$166.50. ISBN: 978-1-63463-682-7. and future fire seasons. Most of these coun- tries are signatories of international climate Wildfires are a global issue. This year’s change agreements and, therefore, their CO fire season in North America and Asia empha - emissions from wildfires are taken into ac- sizes the need for fire sciences that can be ap- count. They also see an upcoming climate plied by the international fire community. Fire change meeting in Paris as an opportunity to science is being developed mainly in a few bring fire management to the international countries. It is heartening to see that Leblon stage. This is the scenario I posed to myself as and Alexander have embarked on the quest to I read. Does this book provide that help? disseminate some of that knowledge through My first impression upon receiving the their book, Current International Perspectives book was disappointment with the hardcover on Wildland Fires, Mankind and the Environ- price, which makes it too costly for the intend- ment. The title of this work is ambitious and ed global audience. Over the years, I have creates high expectations. Does the book live seen many fire-related books that have been up to them? Before the book arrived, I was hopeful that this could be an affordable one-stop source for learning about some of the human dimensions faced by the global fire community across the world, especially in the tropics. I received the book before summer, when I was preparing for several professional trips to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Portugal, and to Brazil and Boliv- ia for discussion with research collaborators. While I was gone, large wildfires occurred on the Indian reservations where I had planned summer work in my home state of Washing- ton, USA. I am not surprised that the fires in Canada and the western US were being cov- ered by the international media in almost real time. My colleagues in the countries I was visiting had trouble understanding why coun- tries such as the US, with its good fire science and fire fighting resources, continue to have these large and destructive fires. The ques- tions always led to what lessons can be learned from the North American fires that can be ap- plied to other countries with less developed fire sciences and minuscule resources. Alvarado: Current International Perspectives Fire Ecology Volume 11, Issue 3, 2015 Page 150 doi: 10.4996/fireecology.1103149 published but have a small international distri- the decline of forest health in most of the re- bution. I am afraid this book will run the same gion. The chapter’s main focus is on the course and miss being read by the intended au- southern US and Australia. Undoubtedly, dience. Additionally, for the cost, I expected there is no one better than Dale Wade to dis- higher quality graphics. The graphics are so cuss fire in the southern US, where he was a fuzzy that one cannot see what the authors in- pioneer of fire research. His understanding tended to convey. In this area, I give the book and experience of the region is well expressed 2.5 out of 5 stars. in this chapter. In Current Perspectives, Leblon and Alex- The Australian fire story is similar to the ander have brought together several authors for United States. It starts with a European set- a “smorgasbord” approach from the Americas, tler’s misunderstanding of the fire culture and Australia, and Africa. The nine chapters have traditions of Aborigines, a policy of fire exclu- no unified theme (in contrast to the majority of sion, a wildland-urban interface fire crisis, and recent fire books), nor does the book take a the restructuring of fire policies. The authors comprehensive textbook approach. Instead, present their ideas for a path forward in the US the chapters cover a wide array of topics writ- and their views on how to increase or restore ten by authors with a range of different levels fire regimes in the landscapes, and they intro- of experience, from veteran researchers to duce the reader to a successful case of emerging scientists. The topics are discrete but multi-stakeholder collaboration in southern organized in a way that the reader can start at Florida to reintroduce fire. any chapter of the book depending on interest. Chapter 2 on remote sensing is written by In the first chapter, Dale Wade and others authors from three countries; the common uni- remind us that the concept of fire regime is ap- fier is satellite technology. Leblon and col- plicable to all the world’s ecosystems. They leagues review the use of satellite technology use an early publication by The Nature Con- for monitoring pre- and post-fire conditions. servancy to discuss the distribution of fire re- Satellite technology has been seen as a pana- gimes in global ecosystems. One might think cea for monitoring wildfires, but this technolo - that the most common classification of fire re- gy has only slowly made it to mainstream gimes in the United States (low, mixed, and wildfire applications. The chapter concen - high severity) is perhaps too western US-cen- trates on the North American and European tric. Nevertheless, for most ecosystems, this experiences of using optical, thermal infrared, system works fine. The framework used by and radar images. It is unfortunate that the re- Wade and colleagues in this chapter is applied mote sensing science developed by Brazil was to ecosystems beyond the western US. The not a part of the review. Brazil’s satellite tech- authors take us on a fire regime tour of North nology is being applied in tropical systems, America, but restrict the fire regime discussion where it is more challenging to develop simi- mostly to the US and pre- and post-European lar tools than in temperate systems. The chap- settlement in the West. They present an inter- ter emphasizes fuel moisture detection, weath- esting discussion of fire regimes influenced by er conditions, fuel types, and topography for Native Americans, but fail to acknowledge monitoring pre-fire conditions based mainly that major drivers of fire regime change were on the use of optical and thermal infrared im- the Indian treaties that practically removed agery and, more recently, radar. Most of the Native Americans from most US landscapes contribution of satellites to fire management during the mid-nineteenth century. The cessa- has been for fire detection. Several systems tion of Indian burning and the ensuing Eu- have been implemented by many countries us- ro-American settlement in the West initiated ing technology based on detection of hot spots. Alvarado: Current International Perspectives Fire Ecology Volume 11, Issue 3, 2015 Page 151 doi: 10.4996/fireecology.1103149 Many of the initial problems have been from the province of Alberta, Canada, because worked out and the technology is reaching ma- of a serious injury in 1995. The chapter re- turity. Multiple satellite sensors are used for views the background of LCES, in addition to burnt area mapping. Post-fire mapping is a the 10 standard orders and the 18 watch-out pressing need in fire management, assessment situations in fire fighting. The authors suggest of environmental effects, and ecosystem resto- that adding the “A” will improve the safety of ration. Certainly, the remote sensing commu- fire fighters. nity has made tremendous progress from the After approximately 100+ years of orga- early days of three decades ago. The authors nized fire fighting in the world, we still rely on recognize that ground validation appears to be human labor for fire fighting. Nevertheless, the most important challenge that needs to be the work of fire fighters is made easier when addressed before remote sensing is fully em- appropriate technology is incorporated in fire braced by fire managers. management tools. In Chapter 5, Cassandra In Chapter 3, M.C. Dentoni and colleagues Hansen and colleagues present to the reader present the case of adoption of the Canadian the use of geographical information systems Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS) (GIS) and the more recent cloud-based GIS to as a fire management tool for Argentina. The support fire management. A case study of the need for a system of fire danger rating has Silver Fire in California, USA, is used to make been expressed in several international confer- the point of the importance of GIS in fire sup- ences. The major systems in the world are pression. Undoubtedly, more and better infor- based on the US National Fire Danger Rating mation is expected to improve the efficiency System, the Canadian CFFDRS, the Australian of fire management. Geographical informa- MacArthur Index, and the Russian Nesterov tion systems have become the tools that the Index. One way or another, all these systems new generation of fire managers must have, are pursuing the same goal. In this chapter, I along with remote sensing. Fire fighting will find interesting the experience that Argentina continue to depend on people to fight fires, but went through with their adoption and adapta- they will be safer and better equipped to do tion of the CFFDRS to a country with such di- their job if new and appropriate technology is versityfrom the Andes, to the Equator, and incorporated by fire managers. Personally, I to the colder systems in Patagonia and Tierra feel that this chapter is too short and so del Fuego. The adjustments, implementation, case-driven that it is difficult to follow. pilot testing, and extrapolation to larger areas In Chapter 6, Gavriil Xanthopoulos writes are worth examining. After 15 years of initial on fire fighter safety issues in Greece. He work, the system is used in almost two thirds presents a review of fatalities in wildfires in of the country. This chapter is worth reading Greece, the lessons learned, and how to im- by managers of countries interested in having prove safety of fire fighters. Most of the fatali - their own fire danger rating system. The Ar - ties reported in this chapter occurred from gentinian experience tells us a story of many 1977 to 2013. According to Xanthopoulos, challenges faced by scientists and managers fire prevention and better training are the keys when developing a fire danger system. to avoiding fatalities. Greece’s case is not In Chapter 4, Martin Alexander and Wil- unique, though, and the chapter needed to liam Thorburn introduce an “A” to the acro- make a stronger call for a professional fire nym LCES (Lookout-Communications-Escape fighting cadre that will be adequately trained. Routes-Safety Zones), a standard in the US Unfortunately, countries that depend on civil- federal government fire agencies: adding An- ian volunteers will continue experiencing acci- chor Points (A). This stems from a proposal dents and fatalities. Alvarado: Current International Perspectives Fire Ecology Volume 11, Issue 3, 2015 Page 152 doi: 10.4996/fireecology.1103149 Chapters 7 and 8 are my favorites in the with the Greek case, fire fighter training is key book. Guillermo Defossé and colleagues pres- to improving fire fighting safety. ent a nice review of fire ecology and manage - This book has important lessons to teach. ment in Patagonia. I am glad that these au- One is that, after someone retires from a pro- thors have taken a leadership role in fire ecolo - ductive professional life, there is much knowl- gy and management in this richly biodiverse edge that can be shared. The fire science com- region. The chapter takes the reader on a his- munity should recognize the effort that Alex- torical tour of fire from Triassic to modern ander and Wade have invested in editing the times. Their description of ecology and fires book and authoring two chapters. We should sparks the reader’s interest in visiting the re- appreciate their selflessness in sharing their gion and learning more about fire ecology. experience and knowledge since retiring. Chapter 8, by Carlos Kunst and others, covers The book itself has several inconsistencies. the fire ecology and management of the Argen- Some chapters are deeper than others. The tine Chaco, although the Gran Chaco covers book presents unbalanced treatments of some an extensive area from Argentina through Bo- important topics that are only occasionally livia, Paraguay, and Brazil. The description of mentioned. I wish some chapters were consec- the Chaco’s ecosystems, fire regimes, ecologi- utive, for instance Greece and South Africa, or cal effects, and fire management can be appli - perhaps they should have been merged to avoid cable to the other regions in South America. repetition and enrich the discussion by compar- This type of information is missing for most of ing and contrasting their experiences. Bolivia and Paraguay, and only Brazil has in- At the end, some questions still linger. vested in studying this important ecosystem. What about tropical fires? There is a huge gap The shortness of this chapter reflects the many of knowledge regarding tropical fires that knowledge gaps for fires in the Gran Chaco. I would improve the understanding and man- hope that this young group of academics and agement of fires in Indonesia, Brazil, Central scientists can become leaders in fire ecology in America, and other tropical countries. I find South America. also that discussion of human dimensions is The book closes with Chapter 9, which is a shortchanged in the book. My overall rating recapitulation of fire-related casualties in for the book is 3.5 stars out 5. The book is South Africa. This chapter has many things in worth reading, but one can always wait for the common with Chapter 6; perhaps they should paperback version. have been one chapter, or put in sequence. Cornelis De Ronde presents a historical review Ernesto Alvarado, School of Environmental of the casualties and causes since 1994. In and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, South Africa, the Incident Command System Seattle, Washington 98195, USA. alvarado@ has been introduced in fire management. As uw.edu

Journal

Fire EcologySpringer Journals

Published: Dec 1, 2015

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