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Table 1 Fundamental differences between wildfire and prescribed fire science practice and application

From: Prescribed fire science: the case for a refined research agenda



Prescribed fire

Planning horizon

Days to weeks

Weeks to years; multiple years to decades

Scale at which research is applied

Hundreds to many thousands of hectares

Sub-meter to ~5000 ha

Primary motivation for science use and application

Safety of human life, property, and natural resource values

Meeting resource objectives without disrupting human life, property

Post-fire effects actions and evaluation

Rehabilitation where needed, immediate, opportunistically afterwards

Observation, immediate, then following monitoring plans

Response to above evaluation

Rehabilitation where needed

Refinement of prescribed burning plan, adaptive management, reapplication when appropriate

Study designs

Opportunistic, mostly lacking pre-fire data, non-replicated

Pre-fire and control data often incorporated in fire effects evaluation, often replicable

Horizon for experimental research

Limited: opportunistic, often hindered by logistical hurdles, lack of access during fire; single event

Integrated: intentional planning for desired fire behavior and effects; multiple and repeated events (i.e., potential for replication in time and space)

Scientific expertise directly involved in decision-making

Fire behavior, meteorology, smoke science, fuels management

Fire behavior, fire ecology, fire history, social sciences, smoke science, soil and watershed science, meteorology, fuels management