Mini-Symposium - Putting lessons into practice: reflecting on water management in the face of fire

This Jean Monnet seminar is supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and co-organised by the Institute for Water Futures, the Disaster Risk Science Institute, the Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC, eWater, and the Water Policy Innovation Hub Jean Monnet project.

Summer 2019-2020 has been a wake-up call for many people in Australia and globally, with the size of the fires, wide ranging smoke, risks for firefighters, losses for people and for ecosystems, and the role of climate change. Discussion about fire suppression and disaster risk management of course tend to grab the headlines, but water policy and water management are deeply entwined with the future of fire in Australia.

The scene for this fire season was set in drought, in dry landscapes with water supply issues even before disruption from disasters, and dust storms preceding smoke. Recovery of burnt areas will play out in the context of tensions around water availability, and need for careful management of water quality and its impacts. Long term planning in both water and fire are tackling sustainability transitions, including adaptation to and mitigation of climate change.

There are, however, already many lessons learnt at the intersection between water and fire. As is common in many research areas, it’s not a question of knowledge deficit, but of understanding what is needed to make change happen.

This mini-symposium is aimed at exploring the issue of facilitating innovation in water policy and management in the context of bushfires. Accepted submissions will be grouped into panels with 5-10 min introductions by each speaker and an emphasis on interactive discussions.

Contributions are invited specifically on experiences and ideas about making change happen, including but not limited to:

  • Changing forest management to achieve water and fire benefits
  • Improving emergency water supplies, for firefighting and for communities
  • Land use planning that accounts for water and fire issues

Confirmed participants include:

  • Stefan Doerr, Swansea University, UK, Editor in chief of the International Journal of Wildland Fire
  • Phil Saksa, Blue Forest Conservation, California
  • Robert Carr, eWater
  • Kate Andrews, Australian National University
  • Matt Colloff, Australian National University
  • Ross Thompson, University of Canberra
  • Gary Sheridan, University of Melbourne
  • Wolfram Dressler, University of Melbourne
  • Tina Bell, University of Sydney
  • Graeme Riddell, University of Adelaide
  • Shane Haydon, Melbourne Water
  • Kathy Cinque, Melbourne Water
  • Ann-Marie Rohlfs, WaterNSW

If you are interested in presenting, please contact by 3rd March


As part of the Water Policy Innovation Hub Jean Monnet project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, travel costs will be covered for speakers at the mini-symposium.

A companion event will also be held on the 11th March at ANU on “Perspectives on Innovation: What does it mean to be innovative in water policy-making and what is involved?” Please get in touch if you are interested in hearing more.