Wildfire activity in North American boreal forests increased during the last decades of the 20th century, partly owing to ongoing human-caused climatic changes. How these changes affect regional fire regimes (annual area burned, seasonality, and number, size, and severity of fires) remains uncertain as data available to explore fire–climate–vegetation interactions have limited temporal depth.

Forecasting the effects of global changes on high altitude ecosystems requires an understanding of the long-term relationships between biota and forcing factors to identify resilience thresholds. Fire is a crucial forcing factor: both fuel build-up from land-abandonment in European mountains, and more droughts linked to global warming are likely to increase fire risks.