Jul 26, 2016
Science Tuesday: This Year’s Research Topics from the Joint Fire Science Program
Authors: Lenya Quinn-Davidson
Earlier this month, the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) released an “early alert” with potential research topics for their upcoming funding opportunity notice (FON), which will be announced formally in mid-September. The list includes a broad range of topics, from fuels treatments to fire effects, risk management and post-fire recovery, as well as graduate student support and more focused funds for fire and smoke modeling.
Even if you aren’t a fire scientist seeking new research funds, there are many good reasons to pay attention to JFSP’s funding priorities and interests. The JFSP is not only one of the most important sources of funding for research related to wildland fire, but it’s also uniquely committed to meeting the needs of fire and fuels managers, policymakers and others who work on fire-related issues. If you look at JFSP’s 2014 Investment Strategy, you’ll see that science delivery and adoption are key elements of the Program’s approach, and this emphasis is reflected at a number of scales. At the individual project scale, science delivery is considered an integral component of research, and it is generally expected to be included in successful proposals. The JFSP also emphasizes science delivery at the program scale, and it develops and delivers fire science findings through its Fire Science Digest and other written and web-based platforms. And perhaps most importantly, the JFSP supports 14 regional knowledge exchange consortia—teams of scientists and researchers who share insights and information, and work together to ensure that fire-related research is meeting needs on the ground.
Across the country, these consortia (which are also called “exchanges,” depending on their locations) provide a direct connection to JFSP, and give fire managers and others the opportunity to inform and guide the Program’s research priorities. Here in California, we use the California Fire Science Consortium as a venue for collecting research needs and ideas from the fire community, and then we submit those to JFSP for consideration as they develop their annual FONs. If you have research questions or themes for which you’d like to see more support or attention, I encourage you to reach out to your regional fire science consortium/exchange.
In this year’s early alert, there are a couple of items that I think are particularly relevant to the FAC Net and its members. The first is the strong connection between JFSP’s potential research topics and the Cohesive Strategy, which is clearly noted on the first page. What follows under the first FON is a broad list of important topics: landscape fuel treatment as a fire management strategy; effects of wildfire as a treatment; post-fire recovery; fire effects on herbaceous species, shrubs and seed banks; validating mesoscale, atmospheric boundary prediction models and tools; and factors that affect the co-management of fire “risk.” This last topic—and the use of the term “co-management”—really jumped out at me as being germane to the FAC Net. For this topic, “the JFSP is interested in…research that address[es] the human dimensions of fire risk co-management, including the factors that lead to successful co-management across administrative and ownership boundaries and whether they are universal or differ by ecosystem, region, or culture.” I can’t help but think that Network members and their local partners would have a lot to contribute on this topic.
It’s important to note that JFSP’s early alert may differ from the final FONs that are released in September, and specific topics may change or get dropped from the list. That said, it doesn’t hurt to take note of JFSP’s current priorities and interests, or to get your wheels turning on potential research opportunities and collaborations, and/or future research topics and themes.