Should Trump be listening to indigenous people on fire management?

Should Trump be listening to indigenous people on fire management?

It was only a tweet, but the U.S. President again this week used an inaccurate statement about forest management to make a broader political point: Forest managers and ecologists have widely panned these remarks, saying that the President’s idea of management in terms of cutting trees to prevent “mega fires” will not help the situation. Observing all this from one of the European Union’s most fire prone countries, Italy, forest ecologist Giorgio Vacchiano told Mongabay this of the statement: “If we intend forest management in a traditional way, i.e., the cutting of mature trees for wood production, this can hardly be a solution to [the] issues.” A professor of forest management and planning at the University of Milan, he has however witnessed in his country the nascent success of what’s widely considered to be a better method, prescribed burns. In one study area treated this way, tree mortality from a subsequent forest fire was around 10% versus 90% or more in untreated areas. This fire suppression method is in fact already practiced in California, perhaps most holistically by the Karuk and Yurok indigenous groups of the Klamath River watershed, as Mongabay contributor Jane Braxton Little detailed vividly in a feature late last year, “Fire and agroforestry revive California indigenous groups’ traditions.” Frank Lake, a PhD research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service and a Karuk descendant, in his fire gear at the start of huckleberry season. Image by Jane Braxton Little for Mongabay Native people have long stewarded California forests with the…

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