Skip to main content

Patch Mosaic Burning for Biodiversity Conservation: a Critique of the Pyrodiversity Paradigm

Buy Article:

$51.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)



Fire management is increasingly focusing on introducing heterogeneity in burning patterns under the assumption that “pyrodiversity begets biodiversity.” This concept has been formalized as patch mosaic burning (PMB), in which fire is manipulated to create a mosaic of patches representative of a range of fire histories to generate heterogeneity across space and time. Although PMB is an intuitively appealing concept, it has received little critical analysis. Thus we examined ecosystems where PMB has received the most attention and has been the most extensively implemented: tropical and subtropical savannas of Australia and Africa. We identified serious shortcomings of PMB: the ecological significance of different burning patterns remains unknown and details of desired fire mosaics remain unspecified. This has led to fire-management plans based on pyrodiversity rhetoric that lacks substance in terms of operational guidelines and capacity for meaningful evaluation. We also suggest that not all fire patterns are ecologically meaningful: this seems particularly true for the highly fire-prone savannas of Australia and South Africa. We argue that biodiversity-needs-pyrodiversity advocacy needs to be replaced with a more critical consideration of the levels of pyrodiversity needed for biodiversity and greater attention to operational guidelines for its implementation.

Keywords: adaptive management; conservation management; fire; fuego; gestión de conservación; manejo adaptativo; monitoreo; monitoring

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, CSIRO Tropical Ecosystems Research Centre, PMB 44, Winnellie, 0822, NT, Australia

Publication date: 2006-12-01

  • Access Key
  • Free ContentFree content
  • Partial Free ContentPartial Free content
  • New ContentNew content
  • Open Access ContentOpen access content
  • Partial Open Access ContentPartial Open access content
  • Subscribed ContentSubscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed ContentPartial Subscribed content
  • Free Trial ContentFree trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more