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FRIPRO-Fri prosjektstøtte

Good Fire: An Environmental History of Prescribed Burning in Norway and the North

Alternative title: Good Fire: En miljøhistorie med brenning for arealforvaltning i Norge og nord

Awarded: NOK 8.0 mill.

Good Fire is an environmental history project about forest fire management. As the forest fires become larger and more intense in the boreal zone, Norway and other countries have started experimenting with "Prescribed Fire" (for example, brush burning, flat burning, or heather burning) to control forest fires. In the countryside and in the mountains, there are long traditions of burning for reasons of agriculture, forestry, safety and aesthetics. Good Fire examines the history of burning in Norway and the boreal north, including Scandinavia and northern Canada. The project explores how the relationship between forest fire and land management has developed over time.

As the climate warms, wildfires are becoming larger and more intense. In 2021, half a million hectares burned in Europe, with a clearly observable trend toward fast-spreading “mega-fires” over which traditional firefighting has little power. In many parts of the world, prescribed burns offer a potential solution. Experts claim prescribed burns can knock down out-of-control blazes by consuming excess fuels during cooler and wetter times of the year. In 2021, places like the Sycan Marsh Preserve in southern Oregon are cited as examples: The Bootleg fire ripped through 167,445 hectares and destroyed 408 houses but moved around areas where Klamath Tribes treat the ponderosa pine ecologies with prescribed burns each spring. Scientific studies support these anecdotal examples, suggesting that many of the world’s ecosystems require fire for optimal function. In these fire ecologies, prescribed burns are offered as a cure to reduce the impact of future catastrophes. Norway and other Scandinavian states have begun experimenting with prescribed fire based on North American models. Land stewards in rural and mountain regions have a long history of intentionally burning forests for agricultural, aesthetic, forestry, and safety purposes. Good Fire examines the history of prescribed burning in the Norway and the boreal north, including Scandinavia and northern Canada. The project asks whether fire suppression accurately characterizes twentieth century landscape management practices and traces the roots of modern megafires to a complex collection of landscape management practices extending well beyond wildfire prevention policy.

Funding scheme:

FRIPRO-Fri prosjektstøtte