Science, Ecology, & Research

Scientific information is the cornerstone of safe and successful fire management.

The field of fire ecology seeks to understand when fires occurred in the past, how plants and animals in various environments respond and adapt to fire, and how fires and their effects may change in the future.

National Park Service fire managers strive to ensure that the most current science-based information is integrated into fire and land management goals, decisions and practices. This work includes, collaborating with resource managers and scientists to develop fire management objectives that will meet land management goals, designing and implementing monitoring programs to determine if objectives are met, and identifying questions that need to be answered through research studies. Providing this type of information to managers is critical to ensuring a scientifically-based fire management program that will continue to improve as new knowledge is gained.

A group of ecologists in a burned area.

Post-fire monitoring is an important aspect to document ecosystem recovery and change.

Fire Effects Monitoring

The fire monitoring program allows park managers to document basic information, to detect trends, and to ensure that each park meets its fire and resource management objectives.

Fire Monitoring Handbook

The fire monitoring methods described in the NPS Fire Monitoring Handbook allow park managers to document basic information, to detect trends, and to ensure that each park meets its fire and resource management objectives. From identified trends, park staff can articulate concerns, develop hypotheses, and identify specific research studies to develop solutions to problems.

Fire Research

Research serves to define the natural and aboriginal role of fire for use in formulating and implementing management actions such as prescribed fire and wildfire management strategies and tactics. Research also plays a critical role by determining whether human activity has affected native ecosystems, developing techniques for predicting fire behavior, documenting and analyzing fire effects, and other topics as needed.

National Park units are host to many scientific research studies. Parks are highly valued as study sites because they have often been protected. Research projects may be funded from a variety of sources both internal and external to the agency.

In 1998, the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP), a partnership of six Federal wildland and fire and research organizations, was established in to provide scientific information and support for fuel and fire management programs.

Learn more about fire research from related websites.

FFI (FEAT / FIREMON Integrated)

FFI is a monitoring software tool designed to assist managers with collection, storage and analysis of ecological information. This database management system was developed to support immediate and long-term monitoring and reporting of fire effects and its use encourages cooperative, interagency information sharing.

Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity

The Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity project addresses the need to quantify fire effects over large, often-remote regions and long time intervals. It reflects collaborative efforts to bring previous research into operational implementation for fire managers and scientists.

Related Links / Resources

Learn more about fire ecology and research from related websites.