Human use and management of fire in landscapes have a long history and vary globally in purpose and impact. Existing local research on how people use and manage fire is fragmented across multiple disciplines and is diverse in methods of data collection and analysis. If progress is to be made on systematic understanding of human fire use and management globally, so that it might be better represented in dynamic global vegetation models, for example, we need improved synthesis of existing local research and literature. The database of anthropogenic fire impacts (DAFI) presented here is a response to this challenge. We use a conceptual framework that accounts for categorical differences in the land system and socio-economic context of human fire to structure a meta-study for developing the database. From the data collated, we find that our defined anthropogenic fire regimes have distinct quantitative signatures and identify seven main modes of fire use that account for 93% of fire instance records. We describe the underlying rationales of these seven modes of fire use, map their spatial distribution and summarise their quantitative characteristics, providing a new understanding that could become the basis of improved representation of anthropogenic fire in global process-based models. Our analysis highlights the generally small size of human fires (60% of DAFI records for mean size of deliberately started fires are <21 ha) and the need for continuing improvements in methods for observing small fires via remote sensing. Future efforts to model anthropogenic fire should avoid assuming that drivers are uniform globally and will be assisted by aligning remotely sensed data with field-based data and process understanding of human fire use and management.
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