U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Fire Science Brief, Issue 37, January 2009


US government work.


People have used fire to manipulate the landscape since prehistoric times. The science of using prescribed fire to manage unwanted vegetation is a fairly new phenomenon, and it recently took an important stride forward. Researchers and land managers have compiled a synthesis of the most current knowledge of fire as a tool to manage non-native, invasive plants. The effort began in 2004 with a workshop where about 30 participants were invited to brainstorm the issues, assess the current state of knowledge, and establish the basic principles of the use of fire in the control of weeds. The findings were published as a peer-reviewed article aimed at the weed scientist community and as a handbook for land managers. Much of the knowledge regarding the use of fire to control unwanted vegetation has been accumulated over time on agricultural lands. The purpose of this project was to make the information relevant to those who manage wildlands, where more complex objectives, including preserving or restoring native vegetation, are paramount. The comprehensive handbook provides wildland managers with the most current knowledge of the use of fire alone and as part of integrated strategies in the control of invasive species. The handbook also addresses general issues such as safety, training of fire crews and managers, budget issues, public education, and responsibility and liability involved in planning and implementing prescribed burns, which are topics of interest to those using prescribed fire to achieve any goal.