Increasing wildfire in Alaska's boreal forest: pathways to potential solutions of a wicked problem
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): F. S. Chapin; S. F. Trainor; O. Huntington; A. L. Lovecraft; E. Zavaleta; D. C. Natcher; A. D. McGuire; J. L. Nelson; L. Ray; M. Calef; N. Fresco; H. Huntington; T. S. Rupp; L. DeWilde; R. L. Naylor
Publication Year: 2008

Cataloging Information

  • air quality
  • boreal forests
  • climate change
  • coniferous forests
  • deciduous forests
  • disturbance
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • fire frequency
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • fire size
  • fire suppression
  • flammability
  • forest management
  • fuel accumulation
  • fuel moisture
  • GIS
  • global change
  • Picea
  • rural communities
  • scale
  • season of fire
  • suppression
  • temperature
  • wicked problem
  • wildfire
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 46851
Tall Timbers Record Number: 22670
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Recent global environmental and social changes have created a set of ''wicked problems'' for which there are no optimal solutions. In this article, we illustrate the wicked nature of such problems by describing the effects of global warming on the wildfire regime and indigenous communities in Alaska, and we suggest an approach for minimizing negative impacts and maximizing positive outcomes. Warming has led to an increase in the areal extent of wildfire in Alaska, which increases fire risk to rural indigenous communities and reduces short-term subsistence opportunities. Continuing the current fire suppression policy would minimize these negative impacts, but it would also create secondary problems near communities associated with fuel buildup and contribute to a continuing decline in subsistence opportunities. Collaborations between communities and agencies to harvest flammable fuels for heating and electrical power generation near communities, and to use wildland fire for habitat enhancement in surrounding forests, could reduce community vulnerability to both the direct and the indirect effects of global climate change. © American Institute of Biological Sciences, 2008. Abstract reproduced by permission.

Online Link(s):
Chapin, F. S. et al. 2008. Increasing wildfire in Alaska's boreal forest: pathways to potential solutions of a wicked problem. BioScience, v. 58, no. 6, p. 531-540.