Experts share how to adapt and even thrive with wildfires

Quick Summary

  • This article features many of our Center Directors and past Faculty Fellows all discussing wildfire and how we can adapt to intense wildfire seasons

By Ashley Han

Unchecked wildfires are a serious threat to our region and health. UC Davis experts are raising the bar for well-being by pursuing solutions that nourish communities and give people equitable access to the resources they need to thrive here in California and beyond. 

Earlier this year, we joined a panel of UC Davis leaders in a two-part discussion about living with fire. This Q&A is adapted from the discussions, part of an ongoing virtual event series called Plugged in where UC Davis leaders address the most pressing issues of our time.

Q: What are some ways UC Davis is working to improve our relationship with fire? 

Andrew Latimer J.D., Ph.D., professor, Plant Sciences: Fire is an essential part of California ecosystems and there are various ways to improve our relationship with it, such as planting diverse trees. Dense pines are extremely flammable and susceptible to bark beetle attack, which have ripped through trees in the Sierras, fueling fires. We’ve been working on replanting oak woodlands as well as working with forest services to measure different planting methods. 

Beth Rose Middleton ’01, Ph.D., professor and department chair, Native American Studies: Cultural burning is particularly important in the context of living with fire because it’s guided by the responsibility to care for other species. It involves prescribed burns in specific areas to promote plant and animal health. Indigenous communities have been using cultural burning for centuries and by partnering with them, we can use traditional knowledge of landscape conservation and gain multiple co-benefits for ecosystem health, local employment, and empowerment of communities. 

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