Contested fire management in India’s forests

Fire is a critical component of many agricultural and livestock-based land-use systems in the Global South where its management benefits from generations of local experience in how, when and where to set fires for maximum local benefit. In many countries, governments and conservation organisations have implemented a range of fire-related policies (from promoting ‘early burning’ to banning all burning, or undertaking controlled burning) to address concerns about impacts on nearby populations (from smoke or property damage caused by out-of-control fires), biodiversity and levels of carbon emissions. Both traditional ecological knowledge and science-based knowledge (which may have underpinned government policies) are being challenged by a changing climate and growing pressure on land to meet both conservation and development aspirations. There is therefore an urgent need not only to understand the knowledge base and value systems underpinning different fire management practices in specific contexts but also to explore the potential trade-offs between these changing fire management practices.

This project investigates changing local fire management practices in India. It looks at who takes fire management decisions (including both local communities and government departments) and on what basis, how fires are considered to benefit different groups and whether there are trade-offs with costs borne by other groups.


An awareness poster on penal provisions for starting forest fires in Uttarakhand

An awareness poster on penal provisions for starting forest fires in Uttarakhand


Project Duration – 2020- 2024