Using the forest, people, fire agent-based social network model to investigate interactions in social-ecological systems
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Wildfire links social and ecological systems in dry-forest landscapes of the United States. The management of these landscapes, however, is bifurcated by two institutional cultures that have different sets of beliefs about wildfire, motivations for managing wildfire risk, and approaches to administering policy. Fire protection, preparedness, and response agencies often view wildfire as a threat to be mitigated or extinguished to protect things that humans value (e.g., houses, and timber), whereas land management agencies and conservation organizations often view wildfire as an essential ecological process for sustaining biodiversity and resilient forests. A lack of coordinated action between these two types of organizations raises the possibility of several management challenges in fire-prone socioecological systems: (1) maladaptive management behaviors (e.g., suppressing wildfires, which then allows fuels to accumulate further) resulting from lack of recognition of interdependencies between fire protection and forest restoration or a sole focus on minimizing property damage; (2) limited opportunities for problemsolving, innovation and collective action resulting from lack of communication among the two types of organizations; and (3) impediments to management at politically and ecologically efficient scales due to lack of coordination across cultural and geographic boundaries.
KeywordsCoupled natural human systems, agent-based modeling, social networks, socio-ecological adaptation
Fischer, A. Paige; Korejwa, Adam; Koch, Jennifer; Spies, Thomas; Olsen, Christine; White, Eric; Jacobs, Derric. 2013. Using the forest, people, fire agent-based social network model to investigate interactions in social-ecological systems. Practicing Anthropology. 35(1): 8-13. https://doi.org/10.17730/praa.35.1.w7348256k283t131.