Canadian Forest Service Publications

Indigenous Fire Stewardship. 2019. Lake, F.K.; Cardinal Christianson, A.; Chapter in S. Mazello, editor. Encyclopedia of Wildfire and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires. Springer Nature, Switzerland.

Year: 2019

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 39827

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-51727-8_225-1

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Indigenous fire stewardship (IFS) is the use of fire by various Indigenous, Aboriginal, and tribal peoples to: (1) modify fire regimes, adapting and responding to climate and local environmental conditions to promote desired landscapes, habitats, species, and (2) to increase the abundance of favored resources to sustain knowledge systems, ceremonial, and subsistence practices, economies, and livelihoods. IFS is the intergenerational teachings of fire-related knowledge, beliefs, and practices among fire-dependent cultures regarding fire regimes, fire effects, and the role of cultural burning in fire-prone ecosystems and habitats.

Plain Language Summary

Indigenous peoples around the world have managed fire for thousands of years. Through changing climatic conditions and in many different ecosystems, they have used fire to survive, adapt to local environmental conditions, and increase the abundance of resources and landscape conditions that they favor. Indigenous fire knowledge holders are familiar with the natural cycles of the climate in their local area and understand how fires behave and how factors in their landscape (such as vegetation) contribute to their region’s natural fire regime. This chapter in the Encyclopedia of Wildfires and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires discusses the history of Indigenous fire stewardship and features modern-day examples from several regions of the world. For instance, the Wapishana and Makushi people in Guyana prevent flammable fuel from building up by burning swamps and savannas that are potentially dangerously overgrown. The authors recommend that western or global science be integrated with the traditional knowledge and practices of local Indigenous peoples to protect communities and increase the social acceptability of fire use.