Interdisciplinary Research on Ecosystem Services:
Fire and Climate Change in UK Moorlands and Heaths

Seminar Three

Forecasting and modelling wildfire risk for UK moorlands and heaths

The University of Manchester, 31 March-1 April 2009

Co-convenors: Jonathan Aylen and Professor John Dold (co-opted for Seminar 3)

Experimental Met. Office Fire Severity Index

Experimental Met Office Fire Severity Index.

FIRES3 focussed on ‘where, when and how’ of wildfires: Where do they occur? When do they break out? How do they behave once ignited? The official theme was ‘Forecasting and Modelling Wildfire Risk for UK Moorlands and Heaths’, but in practice the seminar ranged widely across Europe and California. There were no geographical boundaries to the discussion, either in the formal sessions or the lively coffee and meal breaks.

Our NERC and ESRC sponsors are keen to encourage transdisciplinary and international exchange; the seminar succeeded spectacularly well in this respect. We were fortunate to have speakers from California, Portugal, Spain, Corsica and Italy, as well as contributors from the Fire and Rescue Services, Met Office, academic and many other sectors. The result was truly excellent debate. It brought home the mutual benefits of cross-disciplinary working and of and how much academics and fire-fighters can learn from each other.

Many important lessons emerged which will help to move knowledge and management of UK wildfires forward. These ranged from the importance of socio-economic drivers such as land abandonment via its impact on fuel management, to need for better wildfire reporting and fire-fighter training. Download the presentations and discussants reports to learn more.

Much good work goes on regionally but the UK needs a national policy on wildfire. The cross-sectorial impact of wildfire requires joined-up thinking by policy-makers – a topic which will be taken up in FIRES4.

There were actually three days of discussion. The international visitors enjoyed a field visit in the Peak District before the seminar, courtesy of the Peak District National Park Fire Operations group, which gave them an appreciation of UK wildfire issues and a chance to bounce on two metres of peat at the top of the Snake Pass.

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Pre-circulated papers
  • FIRES3 booklet (PDF, 1200KB): programme, including pre-circulated keynote papers, abstracts of the two evening lectures and poster abstracts.
Day one
Day Two: Science into Practice
  • Session 1. Science for Fire-fighting Strategies
    • Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Steve Yearsley.
  • Session 2. Prediction Systems
  • Session 3. Data Needs
Reports of discussions
Day One
Day Two

Abstracts are available in the seminar booklet. Presenters wishing to make their poster available to download, should email the file to