Boreal forests are fire-dependent systems that would lose their vigour and faunal and floral diversity in the absence of fire. The objectives of natural area preservation imply maintaining the original character of the land and perpetuation of those plant and animal communities dependent on fire for their continued existence. This chapter focuses on the status and assessment of fire programmes in nature reserves of northern circumpolar countries, principally Alaska, Canada, north-central United States, and Fennoscandia. The necessity for considering fire in natural area management is now widely recognized, particularly in North America. A considerable body of supporting research on fire as a historical-ecological factor exists. The need for activity versus custodial fire management programmes is great but the employment of fire by prescription in nature reserves is still very much in its infancy. Conflicts between ecological processes and social concerns hinder widespread application of 'wilderness' fire management concepts and principles. Concern for human safety and adjacent lands severely restricts the management of fire on the scale required. Public understanding of fire's role and acceptance of management practices are needed. A gradual and conservative approach, education programmes designed to inform and involve, and application of existing technology will support effective fire management planning and implementation. The ingenuity and collaboration of managers, specialists, and scientists is needed to develop and bring progressive management strategies prescribing recurrent fire to an operational stage.