Arid Lands Newsletter (link)No. 55, May/June 2004
Fire Ecology II

Selected resources briefly noted


Australia burning: Fire ecology, policy and management issues; edited by Geoffrey Cary, David Lindenmayer and Stephen Dovers. Collingwood, Victoria, Australia: CSIRO Publishing, 2003. 268 pp. ISBN: 0-643-06926-7. AU $39.95. Available from:
CSIRO Publishing
Victoria 3066
-- OR (in Canada and U.S.)--
Antipodes Books and Beyond
9707 Fairway Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20901-3001

Almost every ecosystem on the Australian continent is significantly influenced by fire. Consequently, a National Fire Forum was held in early 2003 to examine a wide range of issues associated with the occurrence of bushfires in Australia. At this meeting, five key areas were targeted for discussion: (1) Ecology and environment; (2) Fire behavior and fire regime science; (3) People and property; (4) Policy, institutional arrangements and the legal framework; and (5) Indigenous land and fire management. For each area, two experts acted as key speakers, with their presentations followed by responses from a panel of three members who were fire experts but not necessarily experts in that particular key area. This book is based on papers written by the key speakers and commentaries written by the responding panel members; a final chapter includes the editors' syntheses of the various meeting sessions. Aimed at scientists, land managers, policy makers, students, and interested community members, Australia burning considers what is needed to inform public policy on fire, and explores the potential for closer integration of science, policy and the community with a view to more effective fire management.

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Wildland fire management handbook for Sub-Sahara Africa; edited by Johan G. Goldammer and Cornelis de Ronde. Mainz, Germany: Global Fire Management Center, 2004. 448 pp. ISBN: 1-919833-65-X. International edition US$ 40; European edition EUR 35; South African edition R 160 (note: a discounted price of R 80 is available to buyers in all other African countries).
Available from:
One World Books
P.O. Box 30370
Cape Town 7966
Fax: +27 21 701 7302

Throughout Africa, fire has been used as a land-use tool since the time of the earliest humans, and the presence of fire has come to be recognized as an essential factor in maintaining the continent's rich biodiversity. Nevertheless, wildfires can be harmful to ecosystems and humans alike, particularly given growing population pressures and increasing vulnerability of agricultural and residential lands. With its varied contributors from diverse fire science and fire management backgrounds, this book provides scientific guidelines for maintaining and stabilizing ecosystems and for state-of-the art fire prevention and control. It deals with topics ranging from fire behavior and controlled burning to fire ecology and the effects of burning on Cape fynbos. In addition, it covers fire regimes and fire history in West Africa. Thus, it constitutes an important resource for strategic sustainable land-use planning, disaster management and land security throughout sub-Sahara Africa. Of interest to environmental consultants, conservationists, ecologists and those dealing with wildland fire disaster prevention.

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Rangelands of the arid and semi-arid zones in Uzbekistan; by G. Gintzburger, K. N. Toderich, B. K. Mardonov and M. M. Mahmudov. Montpellier, France: Centre de Cooperation Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Development (CIRAD); Aleppo, Syria: International Center for Agricultural Research in the dry areas (ICARDA), 2003. 426 pp ISBN: 2-87614-555-3 (CIRAD), 92-9127-137-8 (ICARDA). EUR 76.-.
Available from:
La librairie du Cirad
TA 283/04
Avenue Agropolis
34398 Montpellier CEDEX 5

This book provides an overview of the ecology, climatology, native flora, fodder properties, and utilization of the steppes and deserts of Uzbekistan, particularly those areas used as pasture and rangeland for livestock. Its purpose is to help improve our understanding of these regions -- a hotspot of biodiversity -- and of ways in which their resources can be more sustainably used. Prepared with the help of numerous specialists, it is organized in seven parts. A brief introduction is followed by Part 1, which discusses the region's environment including geology and geomorphology, climatology and bioclimatology, soils, phytogeography, and current changes in land use, crop yield and livestock numbers. Part 2 describes the region's flora and main vegetation types. The largest section of the book is Part 3, which provides detailed information on individual plants, arranged alphabetically by family name; each description is accompanied by one or more colored photographs of the plant in question. Part 4 provides an overview of the ecology, biology and economic importance of arid and semi-arid rangelands plants of the region; Part 5 discusses rangeland improvement and rehabilitation; Part 6 focuses on nature preserves. In the final section, a one-page summary of general conclusions is followed by several maps, a bibliography, an Uzbek glossary, several appendices, an index, and brief biographies of the authors. Throughout, the book is enriched by extensive color photos, graphs and tables. This book will be of value to both professionals and members of the public with an interest in the rangelands of Uzbekistan in particular and of Central Asia in general.

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The following two books are available from:

The University of Arizona Press
355 S. Euclid Ave., Suite 103
Tucson, AZ 85719

Agaves of continental North America; by Howard Scott Gentry. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press, 2003. 671 pp. ISBN: 0-8165-2395-9 (paper). US$ 49.95.

This is the first paperbound printing of a 1982 hardbound classic. Based on 25 years of research by Howard Scott Gentry (one of the world's leading authorities on agaves), it covers 136 species (197 taxa) in 20 generic groups, arranged alphabetically under each subgenus. Chapters in Part 1, "Background to agaves," cover the special role these succulents have played in indigenous societies of North America, their taxonomic history and morphology, and synopses of agaves in specific geographic regions of the continent. The heart of the book follows, in the form of descriptive essays comprising systematic accounts of each subgenus and the groups and species that comprise it. Each group is described in terms of its inter-relationships, its distribution and habitat, its use as ornamentals, and its chemistry and flowering habits. Extensive black and white photos, drawings and distribution maps add greatly to the usefulness of this volume, as do the final section of general information on the culture of agaves, an extensive reference list, and a glossary of special terms. Botanists, ethnologists and horticulturists interested in agaves will find this a valuable resource.

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Forging a West that works: An invitation to the Radical Center: Essays on ranching, conservation and science; by the Quivira Coalition. Santa Fe, New Mexico: The Coalition, 2003. 150 pp. ISBN: 0-9708264-1-9 (paper). US $18.95.

For many decades the American West, with its extensive publicly owned lands, its beauty, and its general aridity, has seen bitter and protracted struggles over what constitutes appropriate land use. These struggles stereotypically pit ranchers against environmentalists, with no possible agreement and no solutions in sight to the common problems faced by all. However, the on-the-ground reality is slowly changing, as Westerners of all stripes begin to accept that real solutions to these problems can only come about through discussion, collaboration, and compromise. The Quivira Coalition is once such group, originally formed by 20 ranchers, environmentalists and scientists who met in January 2003 to discuss practical ways to protect and restore the West's rural lands and livelihoods. This discussion inspired a movement called the Radical Center: a meeting-ground for diverse parties. The essays in this book, presented in three sections on Ranching, Conservation, and Science, focus individually on practical, innovative and collaborative solutions to complex natural resource issues. Collectively, they convey a welcome sense of the energy, hope and promise growing out of the work of the Coalition. Recommended for all those who want to get past all the stereotypes and work towards real solutions to the West's complex land-use problems.


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