Traditional Fire Knowledge: A Thematic Synthesis Approach

TitleTraditional Fire Knowledge: A Thematic Synthesis Approach
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsVázquez-Varela, C, Martínez-Navarro, JM, Abad-González, L
Date Published04/2022
Keywordsagricultural burning, cultural knowledge of fire ecology, fire ecology, indigenous fire knowledge, local fire knowledge, pastoral burning, shared wildfire governance, systematic literature review, technical reports and journal articles, thematic synthesis, traditional fire knowledge

Building fire-adaptive communities and fostering fire-resilient landscapes have become two of the main research strands of wildfire science that go beyond strictly biophysical viewpoints and call for the integration of complementary visions of landscapes and the communities living there, with their legacy of knowledge and subjective dimensions. Both indigenous fire management (IFM) and local fire management (LFM) are rooted in traditional fire knowledge and are among the most important contributions that rural communities can make to management partnerships. Focusing specifically on traditional fire knowledge (TFK), we examine the scholarly literature on TFK using a thematic synthesis approach. We extract themes from the literature and cluster and synthesize them into four analytical themes: (a) TFK within the fire ecology global research field; (b) the role of TFK in integrated fire management; (c) governance; and (d) TFK within global fire management research needs. Who the researchers are, the topics they study, how they approach these topics, and where they focus can help us also to understand possible biases in their contributions to the topics. The analysis conducted reveals the existing gap in current research on local fire knowledge among non-Indigenous populations. This paper offers a call to action to include indigenous and non-indigenous local knowledge and voices on this important topic. Evidence drawn from the thematic synthesis of the literature can help to re-focus research and awareness on this multidisciplinary phenomenon.