From the text ... 'There will always be a significant place and need for fire suppression in the management of wildland resources. It is not my goal, purpose, or objective to suggest that all efforts at fire suppression should be abandoned, or that more applications of prescribed fire will eliminate the need for fire suppression. That would be naive and foolhardy. As settlement along the wildland-urban interface increases, and societal pressures to produce fiber also increase, the need to suppress wildfires will continue. Our generation of resource professionals inherited a fire management system that was dominated by a paradigm, or model, that focused excessively on suppression and seemed to lack a widespread appreciation of fire as a fundamental ecosystem process. Over time, it became clear that blanket fire suppression policies would be viable only over the short term. An alternative approach that worked with forest and grassland ecosystems, rather than against them, was needed.As both a concept and a philosophy, ecosystem management means many things to many people. Despite the lack of a clear and concise definition of ecosystem management, such a philosophy transcends, but does not exclude, a utilitarian approach to commodity production. It is implicit that efforts at ecosystem management should: (1) maintain the major, primary components and functional processes that allowed a particular ecosystem to develop under natural conditions; and, (2) use management actions that mimic natural disturbance processes. Fire, on both localized and landscape scales, is an integral part of these two essential components of ecosystem management. Thus, it is hard to imagine how attempts at ecosystem management could be credible, much less successful, without consideration of prescribed fire.These proceedings were intended to provide a snapshot of the current status of prescribed fire in the context of ecosystem management. As such, many of the papers in this volume represent a wide range of perspectives, research, and management experiences. They also describe diverse applications of 'prescribed fire in the context of ecosystem management. While developing the program for the conference, a wide array of material was solicited. It ranged from traditional scientific papers to others that provided case histories of fire management. During the past four decades, the Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference Proceedings have provided practical land and fire management information based on sound scientific data and principles. This 2Oth volume continues the tradition.' © 1998, Tall Timbers Research, Inc. Abstract reproduced by permission.