Scott L. Stephens

Research Expertise and Interest

fire, forestry, fire ecology, fire behavior, environmental biology/ecology, forest policy

Research Description

Scott Stephens is interested in the interactions of wildland fire and ecosystems. This includes how prehistoric fires once interacted with ecosystems, how current wildland fires are affecting ecosystems, and how future fires, changing climates, and management may change this interaction.  He is also interested in forest and fire policy and how it can be improved to meet the challenges of the next decades, both in the US and internationally.

In the News

How wildfire restored a Yosemite watershed

Scott Stephens is the senior author of a new study that gathers together decades of research documenting how the return of wildfire has shaped the ecology of Yosemite National Park’s Illilouette Creek Basin and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ Sugarloaf Creek Basin since the parks adopted policies for the basins to allow lightning-ignited fires to burn.

Let it burn: Prescribed fires pose little danger to forest ecology, study says

UC Berkeley-led research is giving the green light to fighting fire with fire. An analysis of controlled burns and mechanical thinning nationwide did not find substantial ecological harm from fuel-reduction treatments used to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. And with a rise in wildfires predicted in many parts of the country, researchers say more treatments are needed to manage this risk.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
February 6, 2024

Scott Stephens, a professor at the Rausser College of Natural Resources, discusses new research on prescribed burns. The research was featured on Berkeley News.

September 29, 2021
Scott Stephens, a professor of environmental science, policy and management at Berkeley and co-director of Berkeley Forests, joins SHORT WAVE, the daily science podcast from NPR with an urgent message: They've been here 1,500 years, and each tree maybe survived 60, 70, 80 fires. That's incredible. And then one fire comes in 2020. And all of a sudden, they're gone. That is a travesty. Unless we see some regeneration at some of these sites, my goodness, you're not going to see sequoia here.
September 16, 2020
Michael Krasny
As wildfires get bigger, more frequent and more dangerous, experts predict there will be no easing off unless the state and federal government spend billions of dollars on forest management, a reversal of decades-long policies of forest preservation. Listen as UC Berkeley professor of fire science, Scott Stephens joins other experts in talking about how to reduce fires in the coming years.
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