Reimagining the Future of Living and Working with Fire

A special issue of Fire (ISSN 2571-6255). This special issue belongs to the section "Fire Social Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 28 April 2024 | Viewed by 6991

Special Issue Editors

Wonder Labs, San Jose, CA 95128, USA
Interests: social dimensions of disaster; care; equity; justice
Tree Ring Lab., Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Interests: wildfire governance; community wildfire resilience; indigenous fire stewardship

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims to foreground the diverse perspectives and experiences of living and working with fire. The objective is to bring together novel future-thinking and future-ready practices on reimagining life and work with fire in ways that can achieve caring, equitable, sustainable, and just outcomes.

A key incentive for this Special Issue is to address the growing challenge of managing catastrophic wildfires, which is one of the manifold impacts of deteriorating forest health, the fuel management crisis, and persistent social inequities that are leading to increased exposure to wildfires. Although a range of strategies are being employed to address this worsening crisis, the effective implementation will be challenging without sustained support for a skilled and diverse landscape and fire management workforce.

Efforts are currently underway in the United States to increase the workforce capacity and address retention challenges, including by ensuring that the federal firefighting workforce has family-sustaining, career-track jobs with equitable pay and benefits.

However, there is a continuing need to fully recognize the diverse lived experiences of the landscape and fire management workforce. In formal management settings, these lived experiences can include hidden or invisible labor to address persisting inequities, such as navigating racial, cultural, gendered, ableist, and generational perspectives.

There is also a need to fully recognize the labor contributed by the informal workforce, often composed of local, Indigenous, or subsistence communities as well as seasonal or temporary workers, including students, migrants, and incarcerated workers, who remain largely uncounted and inadequately compensated for the demanding work they do. This informal workforce often faces additional challenges while operating in inequitable governance contexts where their knowledge and experience can be undervalued.

This Special Issue is particularly interested in worker-led and community-centered perspectives from different fire regions around the world, with the aim to better understand diverse fire management and governance practices that are reimagining land and fire stewardship in inclusive and just ways.

Submissions can be guided by (but are not limited to) the following set of questions:

  • What might be needed to enable a workforce-led and community-centered transition to living and working with fire in caring, just, sustainable, and equitable ways?
  • How can a future-ready workforce––formal and informal––experience care, safety, and wellbeing?
  • Who is performing essential agriculture, forestry, land management, and fire stewardship work but remains uncounted and/or undercompensated?
  • How can proactive wildfire management be scaled up by enabling more equitable forms of fire governance, including learning from and with Indigenous and local fire practitioners?
  • In what ways could the development of a future-ready workforce support whole-of-community wellbeing and living with fire in sustainable ways?

Please also see this recent Research Counts article, ‘Care, equity, and justice: Reimagining the forestry and fire workforce’, for further reflections on conducting research on a reimagined future with fire.

For this Special Issue, original research articles, review articles, concept papers, and case reports are invited. The research should be grounded in the social sciences but interdisciplinary collaborations that demonstrate a convergence of research methods and applications are encouraged. Submissions can be between 6000–12,000 words, including references.

Dr. Shefali Juneja Lakhina
Dr. Kelsey Copes-Gerbitz
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Fire is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • care
  • diversity
  • equity
  • justice
  • inclusion
  • future-thinking
  • well-being
  • wildfires
  • workforce
  • labor/labour

Published Papers (3 papers)

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22 pages, 4644 KiB  
Article
Social Inequity and Wildfire Response: Identifying Gaps and Interventions in Ventura County, California
Fire 2024, 7(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire7020041 - 28 Jan 2024
Viewed by 924
Abstract
As climate change increases the frequency and severity of wildfires across the Western U.S., there is an urgent need for improved wildfire preparedness and responses. Socially marginalized communities are particularly vulnerable to wildfire effects because they disproportionately lack access to the resources necessary [...] Read more.
As climate change increases the frequency and severity of wildfires across the Western U.S., there is an urgent need for improved wildfire preparedness and responses. Socially marginalized communities are particularly vulnerable to wildfire effects because they disproportionately lack access to the resources necessary to prepare for and recover from wildfire and are frequently underrepresented in the wildfire planning process. As an exemplar of how to understand and improve preparedness in such communities, this research identified communities in Ventura County facing heightened marginalization and risk of wildfire using spatial analysis. Researchers then deployed a county-wide survey and held focus groups in two communities identified in the spatial analysis. Research revealed that non-English speakers, women, people of color, and newer residents in Ventura County are less prepared for wildfire than other groups. Based on these findings, this paper recommends an expansion of traditional risk mitigation programs, strengthened community engagement efforts, and strategies that increase community resources and leadership to decouple marginalization and wildfire vulnerability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reimagining the Future of Living and Working with Fire)
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29 pages, 10210 KiB  
Article
Reconnecting Fire Culture of Aboriginal Communities with Contemporary Wildfire Risk Management
Fire 2023, 6(8), 296; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6080296 - 02 Aug 2023
Viewed by 2626
Abstract
This paper aims to provide a better understanding of the transition towards a new paradigm of wildfire risk management in Victoria that incorporates Aboriginal fire knowledge. We show the suitability of cultural burning in the transformed landscapes, and the challenges associated with its [...] Read more.
This paper aims to provide a better understanding of the transition towards a new paradigm of wildfire risk management in Victoria that incorporates Aboriginal fire knowledge. We show the suitability of cultural burning in the transformed landscapes, and the challenges associated with its reintroduction for land management and bushfire risk reduction after the traumatic disruption of invasion and colonization. Methods of Environmental History and Regional Geography were combined with Traditional Ecological Knowledge to unravel the connections between past, present and future fire and land management practices. Our study area consists of Dja Dja Wurrung and Bangarang/Yorta Yorta Country in north-central Victoria. The results show (i) the ongoing socio-political process for building a renewed integrated fire and land management approach including cultural burning, and (ii) the opportunities of Aboriginal fire culture for restoring landscape resilience to wildfires. We conclude that both wildfire risk management and cultural burning need to change together to adapt to the new environmental context and collaborate for mutual and common benefit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reimagining the Future of Living and Working with Fire)
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19 pages, 318 KiB  
Concept Paper
Multiple Stories, Multiple Marginalities: The Labor-Intensive Forest and Fire Stewardship Workforce in Oregon
Fire 2023, 6(7), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6070268 - 06 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1438
Abstract
Latino/a/x workers perform labor-intensive forestry and fire stewardship work in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, but are not well recognized in research and practice about wildfire governance. This industry has pervasive issues of unsafe working conditions, inequitable wage practices, violations of worker rights, limited [...] Read more.
Latino/a/x workers perform labor-intensive forestry and fire stewardship work in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, but are not well recognized in research and practice about wildfire governance. This industry has pervasive issues of unsafe working conditions, inequitable wage practices, violations of worker rights, limited opportunity for advancement, and a lack of recognition and inclusion of workers in decision making. We draw on a literature review and practice-based knowledge to make this workforce’s history more visible, from its origins in lumber production and reforestation to expansion into forest and fire stewardship. We suggest a new conceptual framing of “multiple marginalities” that situates this workforce as simultaneously crucial to our future with wildfire and subject to structural, distributional, recognitional, and procedural inequities. We recommend new approaches to research and practice that can better examine and address these inequities, while also acknowledging the persistent and systemic nature of these challenges. These include participatory action research, lessons learned from research and advocacy related to farmworkers and incarcerated workers, and Cooperative Extension and education programs that are learner-centered and culturally appropriate. Multiple interventions of offering education and outreach, enforcing or reforming law, and changing policy and practice must all occur at multiple scales given the many drivers of these marginalities. Study and practice can contribute new knowledge to inform this and expand current conceptions of equity and environmental justice in the wildfire governance literature to become more inclusive of the forest and fire stewardship workforce. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reimagining the Future of Living and Working with Fire)
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