PyroLife ITN Course: Fire in the Landscape- introduction to biophysical aspects

By Kathleen Uyttewaal

25 January 2021 to 5 February 2021

Integrated fire management includes social, economic, cultural and ecological values in each step of the management cycle (prevention, preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery), and therefore requires integrated and interdisciplinary training of our new leaders in fire. Here we announce the first course of a four PhD course series.

Organised byWIMEK, PE&RC and PyroLifeDate

Mon 25 January 2021 until Fri 5 February 2021

Duration: afternoons + whole day on February 5th.

Venue: Online

PyroLife is organizing four PhD courses: three on the understanding of fire: 1) climate, risks and impact; 2) human dimensions and planning aspects; and 3) science-policy interaction. These three courses will be followed by a fourth course: 4) integrated fire management, where the way forward towards building and implementing an integrated fire management is discussed and developed. This course page is about the first course of this four PhD course series, focusing on the biophysical aspects of fire in the landscape.


More information about the PyroLife project:


Target audience

A diverse group of people pursuing their PhD degree. This course will cover the basics of biophysical aspects of fire in the landscape; hence it is targeted towards PhD students/candidates working on integrated fire management as well as to PhD students/candidates working on a specific biophysical aspect that want to put their understanding into a broader multidisciplinary context.

Overall learning goal

To develop a broad understanding on the basics of the biophysical aspects of Fire in the landscape, and to be able to link the causes of fire in the landscape to the impact they have, both on the way fires are managed as their impact of the environment.

As such it is a multidisciplinairy course, focusing on four modules: fire engineering, weather and climate, fire management and risk assessment (incl. suppression, mitigation), and fire impacts on the natural environment.


The first step to come up with new ways of managing fire risk and its impact to the environment, to promote landscape resilience to fire and to reduce the vulnerability of communities, is to understand how fire operates. This course is therefore focused on the biophysical aspects of fire in the landscape.

The course first follows the concept of the two fire triangles. Triangle 1: What do you need for a fire: Heat, oxygen and fuel; and fire triangle 2: how does fire move: fuels; topography, weather and climate. You will learn how these concepts are related to fire danger ratings that are used in early warning systems and preparedness tools. Since weather and climate strongly determine how fire itself behaves, we will spend time on the most recent insights into how types of fires, such as extreme fires, are linked to weather. You will also learn to recognise different types of landscape fire.

We will also cover how fires can be controlled and how their effects can be mitigated: what firefighting techniques are there, and when they are used during a incident. How fuel loads can be managed via prescribed burning, grazing, and mechanical removal. Then, the impact of fires on the natural environment are shortly introduced.

Via group work, you will assess how you can link the knowledge on the fire triangles to the way fires can be managed (fire suppression, fuel management, risk assessment and/or the physical impact on the environment (i.e. linking modules 1+2 with 3 and 4). You will search for key papers, which research groups are playing a key role in the research, and for whom what knowledge is useful in order to learn how to live with fire. You will also indicate which PhD projects can benefit from exchanging knowledge from other participants.

Modules and assignment

The course consists of 4 modules, and 1 group assignment:

  1. Fire engineering
  2. Weather and Climate
  3. Fire & fuel management, risk assessment and mitigation
  4. Fire impacts on the environment.

Module 1: Engineering side of Fire

  • Fire triangle 1 and parts of triangle 2:

    • Engineering side of Fire
    • Ignitions
    • Fuels & topography
  • Fire regimes

Module 2: Weather and Climate:

  • Understanding the concepts behind fire danger ratings
  • To be able to identify different types of fire, and the weather and climate conditions that trigger them
  • Understand the basic components determining the wildland-urban interphase

Module 3: Fire and Fuel management; risk assessment and mitigation

  • Fire suppression strategies
  • Fuel management
  • Risk assessment and mitigation

Module 4:Fire impact on the natural environment

  • Impact on soil & Water
  • Ecological impacts
  • Smoke and emissions


Target group
PhD candidates working on integrated fire management; and PhD candidates working on specific biophysical aspects that want to put their understanding into a broader multidisciplinary context. The course is focused on biophysical aspects of fire but explicitly also targets those working in other fields including social sciences.

No prior knowledge of fire is needed; knowledge on a topic or two is useful.

Currently pursuing a PhD degree on a fire-related topic (in any kind of discipline)


a.o. Marc Castellnou, Adrian Cardil, Cathelijne Stoof, Richard Woods, Andy Elliot, Ann Ganteaume, Guillermo Rein, Val Charlton, Marta Miralles, Paulo Fernandes, Marta Carvalho; Juli Pausas; more to be announced

Group size
Min: 15 Max: 25

Course duration
Two weeks; half days (afternoon CET) + one full day

Time schedule
13:30-17:30 afternoons; full day 9:00-12.15, 13.30-17.30h.

Course fee
WIMEK graduate school: €200
PERC graduate school: €240
PyroLife PhD candidates: €240
Others: €280

Fee payment
Participants working at the ESG department of Wageningen University, an internal transfer will be done. For other WUR participants, the course fee will be paid following an intercompany sent to your chair group. For non-Wur participants, including most (non-WUR) PyroLife PhD candidates, an invoice will sent to your working address

Cancelling conditions
Before 11 January 2021: free. When cancelling after the 11 January 2021, but before the 18th, we will charge you 50% if the fee. Cancelling after 18 January 2021, we will charge 100% of the course fee. This can be avoided if you find an other person that is willing to take your place.

Note: If you would like to cancel your registration, ALWAYS inform us (and do note that you will be kept to the cancellation conditions).

Climate change and wildfire risk
Fire behaviour patterns and fire typologies
Fire impacts assessment (soil, biodiversity, water supply, carbon stocks and others)
Risk assessment and planning