To Combat Raging Wildfires, California Turns to Native American Knowledge

A year after Cyclone Nisarga, Raigad on road to resilience

A year after Cyclone Nisarga made landfall in Murud, the Raigad administration has disbursed relief to the affected people and is on the path of building resilient infrastructure in the district.

“Due to the Nisarga experience, we have built two multi-purpose cyclone shelters (MPCS) at Borli and Dighi under the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project. With the district being prone to such weather conditions, we will be building 26 more MPCS,” said District Collector Nidhi Choudhary.

All proposed 26 shelters will come up in zilla parishad schools, of which 22 will be rebuilt at a proposed cost of ₹109.48 crore, while four will be repaired at ₹8.06 crore to make them cyclone-resilient. The proposals have been sent to the Maharashtra government…

To Combat Raging Wildfires, California Turns to Native American Knowledge

Ethno-ecologist M. Kat Anderson has studied these complex resource management techniques. In Tending the Wild, Anderson writes that “fire was the most significant, effective, efficient, and widely employed vegetation management tools of California Indian tribes.”

As of early September, over two million acres have burned in California this year—a number that has been described as the worst in state history. Up and down the state, from mountainous forests to coastal shrublands, fires are burning with a frequency and severity never before seen.

A glance at the CAL FIRE map shows that the entire state appears to be ablaze, with historic fires in Oregon and Washington State occurring in tandem. What was once an occasional event has now become an annual, often deadly “fire season” that devastates human lives and property, biodiversity, and air and water quality while stretching the state’s resources thin.

In contrast to the out-of-control infernos today, cultural burning is a form of Indigenous science and is intentional about when, where, and how fires are burned

And yet, history shows fire as an integral part of the California landscape. Ethnographic studies and tree-ring data reveal that before 1800, about 4 to 12 million acres burned annually. That’s 5 to 12% of the state every year. With variations between bioregions, California’s ecosystems evolved with and for fire. In fact, most of the state’s ecosystems are either fire-dependent or fire-adapted. Fires are essential to biodiversity, as they can enrich the soil with nutrients, stimulate new plant growth, and create habitats for animals…

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