Welcome to the Fire Governance Workgroup homepage



Fire is governed by governments, non-governmental organisations, and communities. It can be influenced by regulations, economic policies, development projects, community agreements and customary norms. Most often, state governance has suppressed, rather than supported, controlled human fire use, with implications for livelihoods, culture, and biodiversity.

The Fire Governance Working Group aims to stimulate discussion about how fire is managed and governed across the world. We provide a space for Centre students and staff to present their ideas and work, to explore commonalities and differences, and to challenge current thinking and paradigms of governance. Themes we are exploring and developing for a joint publication include: the legacies of colonialism in anti-fire regulations and narratives; the indirect effects of economic policies, land tenure reforms, and infrastructural development on fire; and the interactions between different types of fire governance.

The Group is open to all Centre members and affiliates. Please contact Cathy Smith (c.smith@rhul.ac.uk) for more information.


Upcoming events


Royal geographical society conference session: ‘between fires: rethinking our relationship with fire’

Online session, 31st August 2022, 16:45-18:30 BST

Over recent centuries, the perspective that fire use was incompatible with ‘rational’ land use was used as justification for policies aiming to eradicate anthropogenic fire in many countries. Yet, policies of fire suppression have often exacerbated wildfire risk and ignored the critical role of fire in many ecosystems and in agricultural and livestock-based land use systems. In recognition of this, a new narrative is emerging that seeks to recover anthropogenic fire. People around the world – from peasants and Indigenous peoples to state agencies, non-governmental organisations and commercial foresters and farmers—use and control fire for diverse purposes, including agriculture, pastoralism, hunting, gathering, and ecosystem management. In this session at the Royal Geographical Society Conference, we will be discussing the move from fire suppression towards fire management, and ‘reviving/recovering’ fire’. To join the session, you must register for the conference as an online participant.


Paul Laris (California State University)

Kayla De Freitas (Royal Holloway University of London / Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society)

Christine Eriksen (Centre for Security Studies, ETH Zürich)

Rachel Carmenta (University of East Anglia)

Iokiñe Rodríguez Fernandez (University of East Anglia)



Leverhulme Centre workshop: Pastoralism and fire in Africa

Online workshop, 4th October 2022, 13:00-16:00 BST

Fire is important within extensive pastoral livelihoods in Africa, being used to maintain rangelands for livestock by suppressing woody growth, bringing up fresh forage, and suppressing livestock pests. Livestock grazing also affects fire regimes by removing fuel from the landscape. Yet pastoral liveilhoods are changing and pastoral fire use is declining. In this workshop we will discuss these changes, and the implications for pastoral livelihoods, ecologies and fire regimes.


Pablo Manzano Baena (University of Helsinki): The changing links between pastoral herbivory and fire as ecological processes

Sally Archibald (University of Witwatersrand): Understanding and modelling patterns of fire in African rangelands

Maike Petersen (University of Heidelberg): Land-use and land-cover dynamics and social change in a sub-Saharan dryland: The case of Pokot Central, Kenya

Joining link – please email wildfire@imperial.ac.uk or c.smith@rhul.ac.uk

Leadership Team