Jan 21 2020


Dr Daniele Colombaroli, Department of Geography, has recently published a Fire Policy Brief. We recently caught up with Daniele to find out more about the brief and in light of the recent Australian wildfires, how policy change could prevent fires happening on this scale in the future. 

1. Could you tell us about yourself and your role within the Department of Geography?

I’m a Lecturer in Physical Geography, and my roles in the Department are Employability and Placements Lead and Study Abroad Tutor. With these roles I’m helping visiting students to settle in, and I support our students with their future career options and ambitions after graduation.

2. You’ve just published a Fire Policy Brief, what is the key change that the policy is calling for?

The Policy Brief calls for a reassessment of Fire Policies, when lacking the evidence base to assess present fire variability and support key decisions. For example, the history of past ecosystems can show whether recent catastrophic fires are outside of a historical “norm”, and the knowledge from Indigenous communities can inform on more sustainable fire management practices. Such integrated knowledge requires stakeholders and scientists from different backgrounds to work in a cooperative way – a long-term research effort that we embrace here in the Geography Department.

3. In light of the Australian wildfires, the devastation they have caused has had increased media attention over recent months.  How could policy change prevent fires happening on this scale?

Climate change, population increase and land exploitation in remote areas could potentially lead to a “perfect storm” of more catastrophic fires in a future warmer world. In this sense, the rationale for mitigation strategies and a more sustainable fire management is rooted in the understanding of past ecosystem changes, and in the knowledge of the traditional use of fire by Indigenous communities.

4. What do you enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway and within the Department of Geography? 

This is a great place to work. Having students from all around the world is very inspirational for my teaching, and I enjoy the creativity and breadth of topics offered in our department. Working with so many excellent colleagues in our Centre for Quaternary Research, a leading international research centres in Quaternary science, gives me the opportunity to work cooperatively on Global Change issues, including climate change, biodiversity losses and the human dimension of environmental change.

5. Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I like hiking and long-distance trekking. Some years ago I started the Via Francigena from the Swiss-France border to Italy: an interesting way to explore new places “off the beaten tracks” and get to know new people!