Forests on Fire

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Science  11 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5421, pp. 1782-1783
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5421.1782a

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Are the effects of fire good or bad for Earth's ecosystems? The weight of the evidence is tilting toward the bad side, as explained by Goldammer in his Perspective. He describes the need for precise data to assess fire's effects--such as that provided in two recent studies of the negative influence of fire in tropical rainforests (one, Cochrane et al., in this issue)--and outlines the challenge presented by another paper in this issue ( Keeley et al.) to the popular ecological management tool of fire suppression and controlled burning.