Mediterranean shrublands and woodlands occur in only five parts of the world, yet host more than one-fifth of all known plant species on Earth. Increased fire frequency is threatening the historic shrub lands and converting them to annual grasslands. The threats to these habitats include those from grazing, agriculture, timber harvest and urbanisation.
In California, USA, land use patterns have changed. From the 1920's through to the early 1970's, fire was used to eliminate shrub land. This management practice was used because it was thought to increase water yields, resulting in increased grassland production. Urban residents' use of forested areas for recreational purposes and careless agricultural burning, also cause many fires.