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Review article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Representations of wildfires in academia

Whitman, Max; Holmgren, Sara


In response to intensifying wildfire seasons, scholars call for new wildfire policy and management approaches. Based on the assumption that science, policy, and management are integrated spheres of meaning-making, this article aims to contribute to reflective and creative research conversations about fire policy and management by directing analytical attention to the role of science. Using Causal Layered Analysis, we unpack scientific representations of three wildfire events/seasons in Sweden, the US, and Australia. The analysis illustrates that scientific representations of wildfires are contextual and promote particular policy recommendations and management interventions. Furthermore, the review identifies a discrepancy between dominant, more simplistic representations and the dynamic and complex representation emerging from an interdisciplinary reading of the literature. To address this discrepancy, we argue that there is a need to continuously renegotiate the boundaries of wildfires through rethinking the process underpinning the scientific representations to account for the complexity inherent in wildfire events.


wildfire; representations; risk; transdisciplinary research; complexity

Published in

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
2024, Volume: 67, number: 9, pages: 1952-1976

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Forest Damage Center

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Management
    Environmental Sciences

    Publication identifier


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