To burn or not to burn: balancing societal risk perceptions and ecological needs of a fire adapted system
Historically, the episodic occurrence of wildfires was a key driver for maintaining many open grassland and savannas systems. Lack of fire in systems that have typically evolved with fire has contributed to brush encroachment and ecological degradation of many areas. Information on the socio-ecological effects of prescribed fire application exists but there is no integrative framework that simultaneously considers the interplay between social and ecological factors affecting the use of prescribed fires. To address this deficiency, this study focuses on identifying specific socio-ecological factors affecting these systems and, by extension, the effects of these factors on the function, conservation and restoration of ecosystems. This poster shows that risk perception and social norms are important social factors affecting attitudes towards prescribed fire and presents a preliminary framework for combining socio-ecological factors into simulation models that can help guide management decisions. This poster also highlights how prescribed burn associations have overcome many difficulties associated with the use of prescribed fire resulting in greater implementation of prescribed fire at a landscape scale.