With the emergence of a new forest management paradigm based on the emulation of natural disturbance regimes, interest in fire-related studies has increased in the boreal forest management community. A key issue in this regard is the improvement of our understanding of the variability in past disturbances and its linkages with climate and ecosystems. The surge in research activity has further been exacerbated by the increasing awareness of climate change, which has already exposed boreal forests to greater fire risk in recent decades. It is anticipated that further warming and drying will further enhance fire frequency and area burned in many boreal forests. Better predictions of future fire activity will contribute to better long-term forest planning in managed boreal forests. The 12 papers presented in this special issue exemplify this increased research activity by bringing together studies from diverse disciplines and presenting the latest advances regarding methodological approaches for reconstruction and modeling of past, present and future fire activity. Here we aim to summarize, evaluate and set into context some of the new insights arising from these studies and also to discuss some considerations to be taken into account in future research activities.