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Rethinking wildfires and forest watersheds

Kevin D. Bladon



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[...] The secondary threats of wildfires to water supply are particularly concerning, as almost two-thirds of municipalities in North America receive their drinking water from forested areas [...]. Key threats include increased potential for erosion, landslides, debris flows, floods, and introduction of contaminants to streams, with potentially catastrophic implications for community infrastructure, drinking water treatment, public health, and aquatic ecosystem health [...].
Given the rising threats and costs associated with the current wildfire trend, we must change the way we manage both wildfires and forested watersheds. For example, the use of prescribed fire or fostering of fires that burn more frequently and under less extreme conditions can improve forest resilience and reduce the magnitude and longevity of effects [...]. However, it is not economical or feasible to protect all forests through active forest management. As such, it is critical to continue to develop and use the tools we have to produce maps that identify locations and times (e.g., early warning systems) of high fire risk, which can guide our policy and management efforts. [...]


Science, Vol. 359, No. 6379. (01 March 2018), pp. 1001.2-1002, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar8120 
Key: INRMM:14542959

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