Despite evident advances in knowledge and understanding concerning the application of prescribed burning for delivering benefits in wildfire control and a variety of sociocultural, economic and environmental outcomes, the practical application of prescribed burning in Australia is increasingly administratively and logistically complex, often controversial and climatically challenging. This series of papers does not address the merits or otherwise of prescribed burning-we accept the lessons from antiquity and recent history that the use of prescribed fire in contemporary Australia is essential for reducing, although not always being able to deliver on, wildfire risks and meeting a variety of societal and environmental needs. This special issue focuses on several fundamental adaptive management and monitoring questions: are we setting appropriate management targets? Can these targets and associated indicators be readily measured? Can we realistically deliver on those targets? And if so, what are the costs and/or trade-offs involved? The 10 solicited papers included here provide a sample illustration of the diversity of approaches currently being undertaken in different Australian regions to address complex adaptive management and monitoring challenges.