Although vegetation fires and other plant biomass burning constitute an old and important natural and anthropogenic environmental factor, well investigated in many details, it is recognized that we have much less knowledge about extent and consequences of vegetation fires on the global environment as compared to the consequences of fossil fuel burning. The need to develop a Global Fire Science has been recognized. It must overcome traditional diciplinary fragmentation of science. More than ever before the further development of fire science requires a continuous process of communication and cooperation between the participating fields. A strong interdisciplinary stimulation was provided by the Dahlem Workshop 'Fire in the Environment: The Ecological, Atmospheric and Climatic Importance of Vegetation Fires' (March 1992). The results of that workshop, which are summarized in this contribution, had considerable influence on the conceptual design of the first intercontinental fire experiment SAFARI (Southern African Fire-Atmosphere Research Initiative, 1991+), in conjunction with TRACE-A (Transport and Atmospheric Chemistry Near the Equator--Atlantic), under the umbrella of the IGAC/BIBEX Southern Tropical Atlantic Regional Experiment (STARE). Another international research project and field campaign is focusing on the regional fire ecology of boreal Eurasia (Fire Research Campaign Asia--North [FIRESCAN], 1993+). SEAFIRE (South East Asian Fire Experiment) will be starting 1996. The complexity of Mediterranean fire will be addressed by fire information systems research (Fire Information Systems Research in the Ecology, Socio-Culture and History of the Mediterranean Environment [FIRESCHEME], 1994+). FIRE (Fire in Tropical resources and Environmental Monitoring) is a project designed to analyse burning patterns and extent in the tropical belt by remote sensing. The historical role of vegetation fires and other plant biomass burning will be investigated in an international fire history project 'Historical Dimension of Natural and Anthropogenic Fire' (1993+). A NATO Advanced Research Workshop will provide the data base of prehistoric fire records from sediments. © by the Society of American foresters. Abstract reproduced by permission.