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After the megafires: what’s left and what’s next

by Emily Jack-Scott, Aspen Global Change Institute

September 2021 Research Review

Fires have a long history in western montane ecosystems, but the fires of the last couple decades are a new beast. We’re seeing a perfect storm play out – the result of long-term fire suppression initiated by Euro-American colonists, climate change, and more people than ever building permanent dwellings in fire-prone forests (for more on wildfire attribution refer to our previous research review). We’re left with a new reality of increasingly frequent, more intense wildfires, greater loss of property and life, and a multitude of questions about what will be left when the megafires are out.

What kind of ecosystems will regenerate? How long will it take to see new growth? Will these continue to be landscapes humans and other animals can inhabit? The latest scientific research confirms that we must be prepared for a dramatically altered landscape in the coming decades.

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Published Date: 
September 15, 2021
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