The UK Wildfire Conference will take place in the Europa Hotel, Belfast, on Wednesday and Thursday of this week (November 9 and 10). It is the first time the conference has come to Northern Ireland.

The conference was last held in Cardiff, Wales in 2019, and although typically bi-annual, has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

UK Wildfire Conference

This year’s conference, which is being hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), will play with the theme ‘The Human Dimension‘, looking at the role humankind plays in creating, managing and solving the wildfire problem.

It will bring together various agencies who work on this topic, with delegates and speakers ranging from professional firefighters, land managers, academics, researchers and government officials, for discussion and knowledge sharing.

There will be a diverse range of specialists representing the UK and Irish fire and rescue services; government departments and agencies; land managers and farmers; environmental and conservation organisations; and universities.

However, it will also incldue speakers from around to world for international perspective and educational upkeep.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Dr. Christine Eriksen, senior researcher with the risk and resilience team at the center for security studied at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology;
  • Robijn Brongersma, a graduate from Wageningen University in Internatioanl Land and Water Management;
  • Dr. Peter F. Moore, former forest officer fire management for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and current area consultant;
  • Mark Smyth, senior officer with Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS);
  • Sebastien Lahaye, coordinator of Fire-In and president of Warucene.

Overall, 170, delegates, speakers and exhibitors have booked so far to attend the conference.

The programme for events also includes poster presentations; exhibition stands; question and answer sessions; and a gala dinner on the Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of the conference, keynote speaker Mark Smyth said:

“This conference is an opportunity to learn from each other and reflect on how humans contribute to the challenges wildfires bring but more importantly, it’s also an opportunity to discuss how humans can play an important role in addressing wildfire issues.

“We have brought together a wide range of organisations and individuals, from first responders to land managers, academics to government departments, who are working on the many facets of the wildfire problem, including the role of human involvement.”


On the aptness of the Belfast location, Dr. Mark Hammond, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, chairman of the Northern Ireland Wildfire Stakeholder Holder Forum added:

 “We are no stranger to wildfires in Northern Ireland.”

The Mourne Mountains in particular have, in the last few years, experience many devastating fires.

According to a report released in May, wildfires in England’s national parks, going forward, are inevitable.

The Peak District National Park Wildfire Risk Assessment 2022 report says these wildfires could be beyond the remit of control of fire and rescue and are driven by climate change.