The Kathy and Steve Berman 

Western Forest and Fire Initiative

at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability

WFFI in the News

Wildfire Smoke is Reversing Years of US Air Quality  - Sept 20, 2023 -  A new study published in Nature found that since 2016, wildfire smoke has undone 25 percent of air quality improvements achieved since 2000....Read more 

USDA Forest Service Forms Northwest Forest Plan Federal Advisory Committee - July 7, 2023 - Heidi Huber-Stearns, the Theodore Roosevelt Associate Visiting Professor of Practice at the SEAS, has been appointed to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture Federal Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendations on modernizing landscape management across national forests within the Northwest Forest Plan area in Washington, Oregon and Northern California... Read more 

SEAS Prof Kyle Whyte Contributes to Historic Executive Order on Environmental Justice Signed by Pres. Biden        - April 24, 2023 - The executive order Biden signed...adds to the environmental justice agenda he set forth in his first week in office, advancing the administration’s efforts to help communities that have faced persistent environmental injustices such as toxic pollution, underinvestment in infrastructure and other critical services, and disproportionate environmental harms that are often due to racial discrimination... Read more 

Philanthropic Gift Establishes Berman Western Forest and Fire Initiative at SEAS - April 7, 2021 - The University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) announced today that it received a significant philanthropic gift to establish a program that will advance socially engaged, problem-oriented research on western forests, fires, and communities... Read More

What is unique about WFFI?


We acknowledge that one of the features of wildfire risk that makes it so difficult to adapt to is that there are synergistic relationships between problems and solutions. The social, ecological, and technical causes and consequences of wildfire risk interact within and across different domains and scales to form positive feedbacks that exacerbate undesirable aspects of wildfire risk. Although we as individuals will not study all of these interactions, we will recognize them and account for them in our research, and to the extent possible, integrate them into our conceptual frameworks and collaborate on investigations.

Knowledge co-production

Our team believes that the purpose of academic research should be to advance the well-being of society. We also believe that people who are grappling with how to manage wildfire risk in practice on a day-to-day basis hold critical knowledge about the nature of the problem and how it can and ought to be solved. Therefore, we believe that any efforts to improve understanding of wildfire risk should include collaboration between researchers and practitioners to develop new insights and strategies for applying them. This process, commonly referred to as knowledge co-production, stands in contrast to unidirectional models where researchers produce scientific knowledge and communicate it to practitioners. Evidence is mounting that co-production of knowledge promotes inclusion of different perspectives and therefore more relevant and useful and actionable outcomes. As a team, we will strive to engage with practitioners in all phases of our research to collectively define problems, identify knowledge gaps and research questions, interpret findings, and develop interventions,