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. Date and time of session tbc. 30th August – 2nd Sept 2022

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 ‘world café’ format session at the Royal Geographical Society Conference, we will be discussing the move from fire suppression towards fire management, and ‘reviving/recovering’ fire’.


Leverhulme Centre workshop on pastoralism

Online, October 4th 2022 (PM). Joining information to follow.

Fire has long been used in pastoral livelihoods to maintain rangelands for livestock, by suppressing woody growth, bringing up fresh forage, and suppressing livestock pests. This kind of fire use within extensive pastoral livelihoods is declining globally. More recently, fire has also been used to open forest to create and maintain areas for intensive commercial pastoral farming. In this workshop we will hear from researchers internal and external to the Leverhulme Centre, about the drivers and implications of changing fire use in pastoral livelihoods.

Leadership Team