Governing fire across spatial boundaries

Chairs: Cathy Smith ( and Kayla De Freitas, both of Royal Holloway University of London / Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society.

Abstract: In the context of climate change, landscape fires are increasingly visible in the media and of research interest. A burgeoning literature explores social dimensions of fire, including the impacts and mitigation of wildfire, and the role of controlled fire use within rural livelihoods and land management.

State and non-state organisations are increasingly concerned with fire’s governance. For example, in recent years fire has been implicated within greenhouse gas abatement schemes, with payments to smallholders and Indigenous communities either to exclude fire from their lands, or for controlled burning to mitigate emissions from wildfires. Fire governance by state and non-state agencies often overlooks existing social norms and rules that govern fire locally. In many parts of the world, there are thus multiple, interacting, forms of fire governance, related to overlapping jurisdictional boundaries and different forms of land tenure, including customary land tenure, private and state land. In this session we consider the ways in which fire’s governance is shaped by spatial boundaries at multiple scales. We invite papers addressing (but not limited to) the following questions:

· How is local fire governance shaped by customary forms of land tenure? What are the implications when customary land tenure is denied by states?

· How does the privatisation of land affect fire governance?

· How do protected areas influence the distribution of wildfires, and/or controlled fire use?

· How do different stakeholders negotiate fire governance across jurisdictional boundaries?

· What are the legacies of colonialism in fire governance?

· How is climate change re-shaping fire governance?

Instructions for prospective authors: If you are interested in presenting a paper in the session (length of presentations tbc but approx. 15 minutes, with additional time for Q+ A and discussion), please send author name(s), affiliation(s), paper title and abstract (<250 words) to Cathy Smith ( and Kayla De Freitas ( by 9th March 2023.