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How destructive or beneficial are forest fires to wildlife? Should we be trying to reduce or increase the amount of fire in forests? How are forest fires controlled, and why does this sometimes fail? What effect will climate change have? These and many other questions are answered in this richly illustrated book, written in non-technical language. The journey starts in the long geological history of fire leading up to our present love-hate relationship with it.
Exploring the physics of how a single flame burns, the journey continues through how whole forests burn and the anatomy of firestorms. The positive and negative ecological effects of fires are explored, from plants and wildlife to whole landscapes. The journey ends with how fires are controlled, and a look to the future. This book will be of interest to ecologists, biogeographers and anyone with an interest in forest fires and the role they play.
1. In the beginning ...; 2. Historical review; 3. How a fire burns; 4. Fire in the wild landscape; 5. Fire ecology; 6. The benefits of fire and its use as a landscape tool; 7. Fire suppression; 8. Wildland fire and its management - a look towards the future; 9. Further reading.
Peter A. Thomas is senior lecturer in environmental science at Keele University, UK and has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Alberta, Canada and a Bullard Fellow at Harvard University, USA. He has a PhD in forest fire ecology from the University of New Brunswick, Canada and has been involved in a number of fire research projects since in Canada and the USA. His teaching encompasses a wide range of tree and woodland related topics including fire behaviour and fire ecology, and he recently received an Excellence in Teaching Award from Keele University. He has travelled extensively around the world investigating burnt forests; the information and perspective gained informs his teaching, writing and research. His research interests focus on tree ecology and forest fires. He is the author of Trees: Their Natural History and Ecology of Woodlands and Forests both published by Cambridge University Press. Robert S. (Rob) McAlpine works with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Aviation and Forest Fire Management Branch, where he leads the Science and Technology group. He is actively involved in the fire management programme and continues to develop tools and concepts to improve the practice of fire management. Rob also worked with the Canadian Forest Service for more than 10 years where he was a research scientist studying fire behaviour. Rob's current research interests and activities span fire behaviour, fire economics, equipment development, and organizational effectiveness. He has worked in fire management and research for almost 30 years from a front line fire fighter to a fire scientist.
In a book of this size it is of course impossible to describe experiences in the whole planet, but there is extensive cover of the fire triangle (oxygen, heat and fuel) and the fire behavior triangle (fuels, topography and weather) in Australia as well as in North America and Europe of which the authors have personal experience. John Packham, Bulletin of the British Ecological Society "... a valuable source of factual information. The book has excellent illustrations, is easy to comprehend, and includes well-chosen examples of fire regimes from Canada, the US, and Australia. Highly recommended." M.J. Zwolinski, Choice Magazine