Global Warming Focus of International Congress

SAN DIEGO – Global warming is changing fire behavior, creating longer fire seasons, and causing more frequent, large-scale, high-severity wildfires that threaten homes and communities, according to sponsors of the Third International Fire Ecology and Management Congress, to be held in San Diego on November 13-17, 2006.

“The largest gathering of fire professionals in history will address these problems,” said Robin Wills of Chico, Calif., President of the Association for Fire Ecology (AFE), the sponsor of the Fire Congress. “We expect attendance around 3,000. We’ll look at the impacts of global warming upon everyone from contractors to landscapers, homeowners to insurance brokers, and local fire districts to national governments,” Wills said.

“Human-induced climate change and wildland fire management are multi-faceted and span many disciplines,” said Wills. “Planning for wildfire requires a staggering amount of cooperation and communication between diverse groups. We’re going to bring these groups together this fall in San Diego.”

All those interested in the interrelationship between wildfires and global warming are encouraged to attend the Fire Congress, according to AFE board member Timothy Ingalsbee of Eugene, Ore. “We expect journalists, government representatives, fire managers, resource professionals, scientists, landowners, realtors, consultants, contractors, educators and students to attend,” said Ingalsbee.

Ingalsbee said wildland fire has historically shaped many landscapes and is essential for the survival of many plants and animals. Continued attempts to exclude wildland fire pose significant risks, costs, and impacts to firefighters, taxpayers, and the environment, he said.

The Fire Congress will consist of lectures, field trips, workshops, posters, papers, and exhibits that showcase new products, technology, and tools on the leading edge of international fire science and fire policy.

Fire ecology expert and Fire Congress Chair Melanie Miller of Missoula, Mont. said, “The diversity of ecosystems and fire regimes requires a diversity of fire management practices. Fire ecology can help communities living in fire-prone environments learn how to live with fire. We, as a global community, need to push forward to learn more about global warming, fire science, and their effects on ecosystems, people and communities.”

Plenary sessions include Monday, Nov. 13, Dr. Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, presenting “Preparing to Be Surprised: Causes and Consequences of Abrupt Climate Change” and Dr. Tim Barnett, Research Marine Physicist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography at San Diego State University, presenting “Future Climate of Planet Earth: A Sneak Preview.”

Wednesday, Nov.15, plenary sessions will focus on the consequences of changing fire regimes in four geographic regions of the world: Australia (Dr. Ross Bradstock of Hurstville, New South Wales, Australia); Amazon Basin (Dr. Mark Cochrane of Brookings, South Dakota, USA); Boreal Regions (Dr. Mike Flannigan of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada), and Western United States (Dr. Tom Swetnam of Tucson, Arizona, USA). Dr. Stephen Pyne will provide a worldwide overview. In addition, Dr. William J. Bond of Rondebosch, South Africa will address “Fitting Fire into Global Ecology.” A closing panel will address the question: “How will Global Climate Change Influence Fire and Land Management Programs and Policies?”

The Association for Fire Ecology (AFE) is an organization of professionals dedicated to improving the knowledge and use of fire ecology in land management. Utilizing annual conferences, an on-line journal and selected publications, AFE continues to heighten awareness of the role of fire in contemporary ecosystems.

For more information, go to http://www.fireecology.net.

The Congress’s official website is http://emmps.wsu.edu/firecongress.

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