Global analysis of local sociological case studies of fire practices within smallholder and subsistence-oriented livelihoods

Controlled fire use plays an important contemporary role in sustaining human cultures and livelihoods and fire-dependent ecosystems, as well as reducing wildfire risk. This post-doctoral project involves a global review of case studies undertaken on fire use and mitigation practices within smallholder and subsistence-oriented livelihoods. Qualitative and quantitative information collated from these studies will be used to inform our understanding of, for example, the social and environmental drivers of change in fire use, or the spatiotemporal patterns of fire set for different livelihood purposes. One envisaged outcome of the work is the development of a framework and methodology to integrate local level fire knowledge and information into larger scale models of fire dynamics. The review will also highlight data gaps to direct future case study research. The project involves working closely with other researchers in the Centre, crossing the social and natural sciences to strengthen interdisciplinary understanding of fire, its drivers, its impacts, and its social and ecological importance.


Smith, C. (2021) From colonial forestry to ‘community-based fire management’: the political ecology of fire in Belize’s coastal savannas, 1920 to present. Journal of Political Ecology, 28(1): 577-606. doi:

Project duration: 2020-2024