The costs of wildfire management have escalated in the first two decades of the 21st century, largely due to increased expenditures for suppressing large wildfires, most recently called mega fires. Frequent siege-like fire incidents have enormous costs in loss of life, property, natural resources and welfare. Additionally, there is growing recognition of the futility of fighting fires in ecosystems where, the now considered obsolete, fire exclusion policies have led to dangerous fuel accumulations. This is also true in countries like Australia, Canada, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, and Latin American countries like Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama, with significant wildland fire problems. In the Caribbean basin countries like Cuba and the Dominican Republic are also experiencing similar situations.
Political and social pressures, such as those encountered in the wildland-urban interface and multiple-use areas complicate recent shifts in agency philosophies toward managing sustainable ecosystems. The economic consequences of alternative management strategies are poorly understood. Expenditures on large fires may bear little relation to values at risk. Current analysis tools for justifying budgets and displaying tradeoffs rarely incorporate consideration of all relevant contributors to fire management costs and net value changes. Many countries have recently recognized the need for the economic analysis of their wildland fire management investments; and the impact of wildfires on ecosystem services. However, few have developed the necessary tools to perform this work. On the other hand, the increasing uncertainty in fire suppression operational strategies impact the inefficient use of fire suppression resources. It is important to incorporate knowledge of the fire suppression resources productivity to the operational suppression difficulties when searching for efficient wildfire management solutions.