Fire scientists from six continents gathered in Sigriswil, Switzerland, 1618 May 2004, to assess the ecological consequences of fire on a global scale and recommend priorities for action. The workshop was organized by the Global Fire Partnership (GFP), a coalition of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and its two member organizations, WWF and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The effects of large destructive wildfires have made headlines in many countries in recent years. In addition to causing enormous human suffering, including loss of lives, wildfires in many parts of the world can also have significant and long-term negative environmental consequences. Nevertheless, one important finding from the workshop was that fire is also a beneficial and necessary process in approximately half of the Earths ecoregions slated for immediate conservation action. The challenge for conservationists is to promote ecologically appropriate fires in these fire-maintained areas, while preventing wildfires in areas containing fire-sensitive ecosystems and in both cases accommodating the needs of people who live in and around these regions.