People in the French Western Pyrenees have used fire for millennia in order to shape and manage landscapes. This history has left cultural and ecological legacies that both reflect and ensure the relative persistence of landscape patterns and processes. In this paper I draw on ethnographic research, ethnohistorical evidence, and Bayesian spatial analyses of historical fire use locations and land use maps to shed some light on human-fire-landscape dynamics in the Pyrenees for the years 1830 to 2011. I show how cultural and ecological legacies reflect a self-organized fire management regime that emerges from fire use driven by the production goals of individual households. I frame the self-organizing dynamic inherent in Pyrenean pastoral fire use as “landscape memory.” This conclusion has implications for the future direction of fire-related conservation policy for the Pyrenees and for analogous systems characterized by self-organized land management regimes.
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Vol. 33 • No. 1