Temperate and boreal forest mega-fires: characteristics and challenges
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): S. L. Stephens; N. Burrows; A. Buyantuyev; R. W. Gray; R. E. Keane; R. Kubian; S. R. Liu; F. Seijo; L. F. Shu; K. G. Tolhurst; J. W. van Wagtendonk
Publication Year: 2014

Cataloging Information

  • Asia
  • Australia
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • catastrophic fires
  • coniferous forests
  • crown fires
  • droughts
  • Europe
  • fire adaptations (plants)
  • fire exclusion
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • fire size
  • fire suppression
  • forest management
  • land management
  • land use
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 53217
Tall Timbers Record Number: 30564
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals - F
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.


Mega-fires are often defined according to their size and intensity but are more accurately described by their socioeconomic impacts. Three factors -- climate change, fire exclusion, and antecedent disturbance, collectively referred to as the 'mega-fire triangle' -- likely contribute to today's mega-fires. Some characteristics of mega-fires may emulate historical fire regimes and can therefore sustain healthy fire-prone ecosystems, but other attributes decrease ecosystem resiliency. A good example of a program that seeks to mitigate mega-fires is located in Western Australia, where prescribed burning reduces wildfire intensity while conserving ecosystems. Crown-fire-adapted ecosystems are likely at higher risk of frequent mega-fires as a result of climate change, as compared with other ecosystems once subject to frequent less severe fires. Fire and forest managers should recognize that mega-fires will be a part of future wildland fire regimes and should develop strategies to reduce their undesired impacts. © The Ecological Society of America.

Stephens, S. L. et al. 2014. Temperate and boreal forest mega-fires: characteristics and challenges. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, v. 12, no. 2, p. 115-122. 10.1890/120332.