Wildfires and migration

Type

Report

Author

Handmer, J.
Reale, A.

Title

Wildfires and migration

Year

2011

Publisher

Government Office for Science UK

Abstract

Wildfires are a natural phenomenon, but the majority of damaging fires are lit by humans, either accidently or deliberately. A very small proportion of wildfires result in significant damage. Many destructive fires are started deliberately and wildfire is increasingly associated with organised crime. Fire is also an important land management and clearance tool, and an important part of many ecosystems. It is the single most important disturbance agent in global vegetation cover worldwide. The most significant driver in increasing wildfire risk is probably the rapid expansion of settlement and other high-value activities into fire-prone environments, although warming and drying as part of global warming may also be significant. There is no evidence of permanent migration as a result of wildfires, but there has been much short-term movement of people threatened by fires or immediately after a fire. The potential for large-scale permanent relocation exists if wildfires interact with human systems resulting in areas becoming severely contaminated.

Citation

Handmer, J., & Reale, A. (2011). Wildfires and migration. London : Government Office for Science UK.

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