Navigating the evolving landscape of wildfire management: A systematic review of decision support tools

Tristan O'Mara, Andrew Sánchez Meador, Melanie Colavito, Amy Waltz, Elvy Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Wildfires have become more frequent and intense in recent years, threatening terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and neighboring urban communities. As a result, those responsible for managing wildland fires face increasing pressure to address this challenge strategically. Over the past 20 years, these managers have turned to decision support tools (DSTs) to help guide their actions. We conducted a systematic literature review to explore the landscape of decision support tools (DSTs) for wildfire management, focusing on their functionalities. We additionally examined potential gaps in their design and implementation. The systematic review led us to group decision support tools into categories for all DSTs, such as, Fire Behavior Models or Post Fire Models. These categories are not discrete and can be nested to address land management and fire response questions. Moreover, our findings highlighted a significant gap in tools that effectively integrate ease of use with collaborative capabilities, underscoring the urgency for developing more user-friendly and collaborative decision-making tools. Our research also revealed a disconnect between the academic literature's focus and the tools' actual field usage, emphasizing the need for more accurate documentation and a streamlined approach to wildfire management tool selection. We proposed further social science research to understand the real-world use and preferences of DSTs, aiming to bridge the gap between theoretical robustness and practical utility. This comprehensive analysis of DSTs addresses current wildfire management challenges and sets the stage for future advancements in developing more effective and user-oriented decision support systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100575
JournalTrees, Forests and People
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Decision support
  • Fire behavior
  • Forest management
  • Management frameworks
  • Treatment prioritization
  • Usability metrics
  • Wildfire risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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