Fire has long been employed as a traditional tool for managing wildfires in various regions, including, among others, the United States, Australia, and Europe. In the United States, Native American tribes have practiced controlled burns for centuries, using fire to clear underbrush, regenerate vegetation, and reduce fuel loads. Similarly, Indigenous Australians (Figure 1) have a rich history of utilizing fire to shape landscapes, promote biodiversity, hunting and mitigate the severity of wildfires. As a matter of fact, a recent study from the UNSW in Sydney reveals that indigenous burning helped suppress bushfires 10,000 years ago! These traditional fire practices exemplify the harmonious relationship between indigenous communities and the natural environment, fostering a profound understanding of fire's role in shaping and maintaining landscapes.
In Europe, countries such as Spain and Portugal have (shyly) embraced prescribed burning as a means of reducing fuel buildup. Rural societies practiced controlled burns back in the days, to clear land for agriculture, stimulate the growth of desired vegetation, and reduce the risk of large-scale wildfires. These fires were often integrated into cultural practices and closely tied to the seasonal rhythms of the Mediterranean climate. Across various regions, while techniques and cultural contexts may differ, there is a shared understanding that fire can be a valuable tool in promoting ecological resilience and mitigating the destructive effects of uncontrolled wildfires. This recognition serves as convincing evidence that fire can indeed have positive impacts on ecosystems when managed under specific conditions and pursued with particular objectives.