2019 journal article
Evidence of effectiveness in the Cohesive Strategy: measuring and improving wildfire response
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF WILDLAND FIRE, 28(4), 267–274.
The United States’ National Cohesive Wildfire Management Strategy aims to achieve greater social and ecological resilience to wildfire. It also raises the question: cohesive for whom and for what purpose? In this article, we address the wildfire response goal and what a cohesive response means. Namely, we define a cohesive response as the ability to co-manage across scales for a more effective wildfire response. Our approach is grounded in the reality of the growing complexity of wildfire – both biophysically and socio-politically. We suggest that suppression and fire operations are necessary, but insufficient in the face of this growing complexity as we seek safer and effective wildfire response. Using network-based concepts and drawing from the literature on socio-ecological resilience, we consider how scales can be matched, what can and should be communicated across scales, and what this means for creating more adaptable institutions for more effective wildfire response. Survey results from 21 fires during the 2013 wildfire season are presented to illustrate relative areas of strength and weakness related to wildfire response and how these measurements can feed into processes to facilitate social learning, adaptation and ultimately more resilient socio-ecological wildfire response institutions.