Wildfire management in Mediterranean-type regions: paradigm change needed03 March 2020
During the last decades, climate and land use changes led to an increased prevalence of megafires in Mediterranean-type climate regions (MCRs). Here, we argue that current wildfire management policies in MCRs are destined to fail. Focused on fire suppression, these policies largely ignore ongoing climate warming and landscape-scale buildup of fuels. The result is a "firefighting trap" that contributes to ongoing fuel accumulation precluding suppression under extreme fire weather, and resulting in more severe and larger fires. We believe that a "business as usual" approach to wildfire in MCRs will not solve the fire problem, and recommend that policy and expenditures be rebalanced between suppression and mitigation of the negative impacts of fire. This requires a paradigm shift: policy effectiveness should not be primarily measured as a function of area burned (as it usually is), but rather as a function of avoided socio-ecological damage and loss.