Indonesia: “Communities in Flames” An International Conference on Community Involvement in Fire Management; 25-28 July 2001, Balikpapan, Indonesia

First Announcement
“Communities in Flames

An International Conference on Community Involvement in Fire Management

25-28 July 2001, Balikpapan, Indonesia


Recent large-scale fires throughout the world have demonstrated the high social, economic and ecological costs of uncontrolled fires. Major fires and their negative impacts have received unprecedented coverage in the international media, prompting an outcry from national and international agencies for improvement in controlling forest fires.

Unfortunately, government responses to forest fires have tended to focus on suppression and costly technological solutions to fight fires. Contrary to alleviating forest fire problems, these solutions have often increased the scale and magnitude of forest fires. Furthermore, they have largely ignored the human dimensions of fire and the positive social and ecological benefits of smaller prescribed and managed fires.

As the number of forest fires has increased, conventional suppression measures have increasingly come under question. Thus, many agencies have started to explore more proactive approaches in combating fires, including more effective prevention activities. The search for improved approaches has led to calls for revisiting traditional forest fire management regimes that emphasize prescribed burning and prevention. Many of these systems and approaches are seen to be more effective in tempering uncontrolled burns, more beneficial to local ecosystems and more cost efficient in the long term.

In December 2000, Project FireFight South East Asia and the Regional Community Forestry Training Center (RECOFTC) organized a regional workshop on community-based fire management (CBFiM). A key lesson learned emerging from this workshop was that successful CBFiM strategies need to be shared with government agencies (primarily forest and fire control agencies) to combat the persistent paradigm that suppression and enforcement are the only effective ways to manage fire. This international conference is being organized with this lesson in mind.


The objectives of conference are to:

  • expose Forestry Departments and Fire Control Agencies to alternatives approaches to forest management which promote the participation of local communities in planning and managing their own forest fires regimes (within the context of past/traditional practices and their socio-economic needs);
  • examine the approaches and elements for promoting these alternatives to civil society (including identifying fire research needs, forest policy reforms, legal and regulatory restructuring and appropriate strategies for socialising CBFiM); and
  • form working groups and formulate action plans that capture the opportunities that these alternatives offer.

These objectives will be pursued through the presentation and discussion of high-quality case studies and analytical papers from around the world.

Venue and Dates

The conference is tentatively scheduled for 25-28 July 2001 and will be convened in Balikpapan, Indonesia.

Target audience

The conference will present a synthesis of lessons learned from CBFiM and its benefits in mitigating fire. Participants should be representatives from forestry departments and other government line agencies involved with land-use planning and disaster management. Fire control specialists, academics and researchers that provide information on fire management or are involved in fire management issues such as land-use planning, shifting cultivation, and air quality will also benefit from the conference. Other participants will include representatives of organizations that have extensive knowledge and experience in CBFiM.

Organizers and contributors

Project FireFight South East Asia, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and RECOFTC are organizing the conference. The European Union, USDA Forest Service and FAO are providing financial support.

Call for Papers and Posters

Papers within the themes of the conferenc are welcome. The papers will be selected by the Editorial Committee. All accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings, which will be available after the conference. An abstract by the deadline is required for posters.

The deadline for receipt of the full text (papers) or abstracts (poster) is 21 May 2001. They will then be reviewed by the Editorial Committee, and the contributers will be informed of the outcome before 18 June 2001.


Participants should register in advance before 21 May 2001.

For further information, including requests for registration forms and background materials, please contact:

Organizing Committee for the
International Conference
“Communities in Flames”
P.O. Box 6596 JKPWB

Fax: (+62) 251-622 100


Post-Conference Publication

The proceedings (edited by Peter Moore, David Ganz, Lay Cheng Tan, Thomas Enters and Patrick B. Durst) have been published in 2002 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Bangkok, Thailand (RAP Publication 2002/25, 133 p., ISBN 974-7946-29-7). Digital versions of the chapters are available at GFMC library:


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