GPWG2: Diverse knowledge systems for fire policy and biodiversity conservation

04.09 - 07.09.2018  
Egham, UK
Contact person:
Daniele Colombaroli, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Workshop report: 
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The Global Paleofire Working Group 2 (GPWG2) will hold a workshop, titled "Diverse knowledge systems for fire policy and biodiversity conservation: integrating palaeoecology, traditional knowledge and stakeholders" from 4-7 September 2018 in Egham, UK.


Royal Holloway University London
Egham, Surrey, UK


This is a network development and capacity building workshop, focusing on knowledge transfers to stakeholders/policy makers, data assessment and dissemination. The maximum number of (international) participants is 40, including at least 50% early-career researcher participants.


One of the key challenges identified by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is the conservation of biodiversity under future climatic, anthropogenic and disturbance regime changes. The objective of this workshop is to assess the relationship between fire and biodiversity in key biogeographical hotspots, by fostering interdisciplinary collaborations and between 3 different communities (paleoecology, human geography and stakeholders/policy-makers).

Key themes

1) How long-term data on fire-vegetation interaction can inform fire management and related landscapes practices (prescribed burning, fuel reduction, salvage logging) to maintain/restore biodiversity (paleoecology-informed conservation). This will imply discussing ongoing approaches for biodiversity reconstruction that can contribute towards stakeholders’ goals for conservation and ecosystem adaptability to climate change.

2) How local, traditional, Indigenous knowledge systems on fire management maintain and promote biodiversity (community-owned driven conservation). This will involve identifying sustainable fire-related land use practices successfully implemented by local communities without major influence from external stakeholders, and their responses to future global changes.

3) Defining conservation challenges and agendas from stakeholders and policy-makers that can be addressed by long-term records and local/traditional/Indigenous knowledge in co-production processes (stakeholder-driven research). This will include identifying conservation priorities for key species and ecosystems, and integrating ongoing efforts of collaboration between stakeholders, local communities and the paleoecology community.

The approach will combine long-term ecosystem changes, indigenous knowledge, and stakeholders’ needs to critically assess ongoing challenges in ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation.


GPWG2 includes four cross-cutting initiatives (including "geographical challenges"), and three focus groups, two of which are specifically devoted to the application of paleodata to forest management and biodiversity conservation (Focus 2 and 3). Ecosystem research and science application in ecosystem management emerged as key issues and high priority needs by the international scientific community during previous GPWG workshops such as the "paleofire data-model comparison" at Harvard Forest (Sept. 2015), and the "Fire history baseline by Biome" at Bordeaux (Sept. 2016).

The Montreal workshop (Oct 2017) further highlighted the urgent need to increase dialogue with the stakeholders, and developed a first framework for knowledge transfer from paleofire research to the stakeholder community. In this sense, the present workshop is the second of the GPWG initiatives dedicated to more applied science, and will engage practitioners on biodiversity conservation and fire policy aspects, this time by integrating the cultural dimension brought by human geography (not included in the previous meetings). By its scope and interdisciplinarity, this workshop will improve our scientific understanding of "contested and disputed landscapes" and their conservation in a changing world, as well as how conservation targets (natural or cultural) best meet landscape management goals.

Our effort will be again on building a strong network of researchers and managers, linking paleoecological community, human geographers, modern ecologists and stakeholders. The workshop will have a significant capacity-building component and it is hoped that it will inspire new work on applied paleoecology. By international scope, the workshop also aligns with the key-regional objectives identified for our regional-focus workshop in Nairobi (July 2018).

The connection between paleo informed science and stakeholders will be particularly insightful and productive for 1) the detection of conservation measures to balance specific targets, particularly in "intermediate landscapes", i.e. areas that offer conservation challenges on both natural structure and cultural properties (Whitlock et al. 2017), but also on 2) the feasibility of alternative management objectives in "contested" landscapes, i.e. where restoring naturalness, and protecting cultural heritage, are in conflict.

Workshop organizers

Daniele Colombaroli
Jay Mistry
Alice Milner
Boris Vannière (GPWG2)

Confirmed speakers

Elizabeth Jeffers (University of Oxford)
Bibiana Bilbao (Simon Bolivar University)
Paul Sinnadurai (Brecon Beacons National Park Authority)
Gillian Petrokofski (University of Oxford)
Christopher Carcaillet (EPHE France)
Evan Larson (University of Wisconsin)

Tentative schedule

Monday 3 September:
16.00-18.00 Arrival of Participants and Ice Breaker

Tuesday 4 September:
09.00-09.30 Welcome by RHUL GEOG and the GPWG (Daniele, Jay, Alice, Boris)
09.30-10.30 Plenary talks by UK government department representative for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) + "Palaeoecology-informed" and "Community-owned" keynote sessions
10.30-11.00 3-min short introductions by GPWG representatives (Mitch, Anne-Laure, Boris), PAGES ECN-GPWG (Carole, Donna) & all participants
11.00-11.30 Coffee Break
11.30-12.30 3-min short introductions (continued)
12.30-13.00 Policy brief structure and set-up of the 4 working groups
13.00-14.00 Lunch
14.00-16.00 1st Breakout session: "State of the art" and identification/prioritization of conservation and fire policy challenges by stakeholder-driven research
16.00-16.30 Coffee break
16.30-17.30 Group report (1-4) + Plenary Discussion
18.00-22:00 1st Social Dinner (venue TBD)

Wednesday 5 September:
09.00-09.30 Introduction and goals for Day 2, ECR sub-group planning
09.30-10.30 2nd Plenary Session (12 min+3 min Q/A): regional case-studies and evidence-informed approaches to science-policy dialogue
10.30-11.00 2nd Breakout session: compilation of the available evidence, knowledge gaps and contribution by palaeo-informed and community-owned research
11.00-11.30 Coffee Break
11.30-13.00 2nd Breakout session (continued)
13.00-13.30 Lunch break
13.30-14.30 Group report (1-4) + Plenary Discussion
14.30-18.00 Visit to Chobham Common – the largest National Nature Reserve in the south east of England. Guided-discussion on fire risk and lowland heath conservation priorities
18.00-22:00 2nd Social Dinner (Venue: The Horseshoe)

Thursday 6 September:
09.00-09.15 Introduction and goals for Day 3
09.15-11.00 Set-up of the working groups/3rd Breakout session: "Best-practices", evidence-based recommendations, and science-policy knowledge exchange
11.00-11.30 Coffee Break
11.30-13.00 3rd Breakout session
13.00-13.30 Lunch break
13.30-14.30 Group report (1-4) + Plenary Discussion
14.30-16.00 Thematic discussions, writing teams and ECR sub-group
16.00-16.30 Coffee break
16.30-18.00 Plenary Discussion and wrap-up
18.00-22:00 Free Pub Night

Friday 7 September:
9.30-11.00 Thematic discussions, writing teams and ECR sub-group
11.00-11.30 Coffee Break
11.30-13.00 Plenary Synthesis, future plans, action items by group-leaders & deadlines
13.00-13.30 Lunch break and Conclusion of the Workshop

ECN session

During the workshop, an ECR discussion group led by members of PAGES ECN, Dr Donna Hawthorne (AOC Archaeology Group) and Dr Carole Adolf (University of Oxford), will address science communication with the aim of writing a systematic review focusing on a topic around palaeofire and biodiversity-informed policy.

Financial support

PAGES has provided some funding for the attendance of early-career researchers and researchers from less-favored countries. When registering for the meeting, please state the reasons why you require funding.

Registration and deadlines

The registration deadline is 11 May.
Register by emailing meeting organizer Daniele Colombaroli (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) a short paragraph describing your background and potential contribution to the workshop, and if you require financial support (see above).

Further information

Questions can be sent to meeting organizer Daniele Colombaroli: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or go to the official GPWG2 website:

Follow their Twitter account: @diverse_K