NCC’s 13th biennial Bushfire Conference, “Managing Bushfire Together: Applying science, skills and stories”, took place on the 24-25th May, 2023. It was our first ever hybrid delivery event, connecting over 300 delegates from more than 130 unique organisations, both in-person at the Teachers’ Federation Conference Centre in Surry Hills, Sydney, and virtually for those who preferred to attend remotely.
NCC Bushfire Conferences are characterised by their informal, convivial nature, and diverse range of presentation topics. Largely due to this, they have been eagerly anticipated by a broad range of organisations and individuals over many years, attracting a wide mixture of delegates from a variety of organisations, locations, and disciplines. This year’s conference well exemplified this continued trend. The conference showcased some of the latest innovative and successful programs, research, and projects, including numerous examples of how different organisations and individuals can collaborate to achieve sustainable fire management. For more details on the event, please click here to access our conference summary brochure and full report.
This year, we were honoured to host a highly knowledgeable and diverse array of 48 speakers representing 34 different organisations over the 2 conference days, including a highly animated discussion panel hosted by Greg Mullins (NCC Bush Fire Advisory Committee). Each and every one of our speakers brought their own knowledge and insights, and kindly shared their findings and new ideas during their fascinating presentations. In between the sessions you could hear the lively discussions flowing and wisdom being shared amongst speakers and delegates. The full conference program can be accessed by clicking here.
Our line-up included impactful opening addresses that helped to set the scene regarding the current state of our environment and communities, three years on from the 2019-2020 Bushfire Season and in the face of what is anticipated to be a dry upcoming El Niño season. These addresses were delivered by:
- Commissioner Rob Rogers, NSW Rural Fire Service
- Atticus Fleming, A/ Coordinator General, Environment and Heritage Group
- Darren Grover, Head, Healthy Land and Seascapes, WWF-Australia
- Jacqui Mumford, CEO, Nature Conservation Council of NSW
- Carolyn Loton, Chair, Nature Conservation Council of NSW
Our Keynote speakers delivered fascinating and insightful presentations including:
- Oliver Costello (Jagun Alliance Aboriginal Corporation), who described how “Jagun Alliance is enhancing the cultural life of the community by providing opportunities for people to work together to heal Country, mitigate the risks of bushfires, and improve Connections to Country.”
- Dr Sarah Harris (Country Fire Authority), who outlined “Fire-climate relationships in southeast Australia and the implications for bushfire management.”
- Prof David Lindenmayer (The Australian National University), who explained how “Forest management has major impacts on fire severity with conventional practices like logging, thinning and even prescribed burning adding to fire burdens – thereby highlighting the need to seek new ways of dealing with highly flammable and fire prone ecosystems.”
- A/Prof Lauren Bennett (The University of Melbourne), who sustained how “the stability of carbon stores in fire-tolerant forests will be challenged by fire regimes involving more frequent severe fire.”
- Prof Euan Ritchie (Deakin University), who emphasized that “effectively managing the impacts of fire on wildlife and ecosystems requires a whole-of-system view and integrated approaches.”
Alongside these presentations, delegates particularly valued catching up with colleagues and making new connections whilst browsing conference sponsor stalls, speaking with presenters during the poster session, and during a relaxed and friendly conference dinner.
Attendees greatly enjoy NCC’s Bushfire Conferences with every subsequent iteration – the feedback received this year was once again overwhelmingly positive, with surveyed respondents noting aspects such as the “great coverage of diverse topics”, “First Nations representation”, “networking opportunities” and “new perspectives” as the highlights of their experience. In addition:
- 99% of delegates considering the content interesting and relevant, and
- 98% of delegates noting that they were satisfied with the presentations.
The live streaming of conference presentations was a new feature provided to all delegates, including virtual access to all eight sessions and the option to ask questions or interact with other delegates, presenters, and the event hosts through Zoom’s chat functionality. Additionally, as a unique resource, we provided access to conference recordings for all eight sessions to all delegates as part of their registration package, with this access also available to purchase for those who were unable to secure a ticket for the event in May.
The conference concluded with a congratulations and acknowledgement of Rob Pallin, for his service to bushfire management and conservation for over 20 years. This includes service as the chair of the NCC Bush Fire Advisory Committee and Hotspots Fire Project, and as the NCC representative within the NSW Rural Fire Service Advisory Committee, state Bush Fire Coordinating Committee (BFCC), and multiple regional Bushfire Management Committees (BFMCs). Rob has left a lasting legacy for nature, within the environmental movement, bushfire management space, and beyond. NCC subsequently warmly welcomed Bob Conroy as the incoming NCC BFAC Chair. Bob has previously represented the Minister for the Environment on the BFCC, and brings with him more than 40 years of extensive experience in protected area management in both operational and executive roles.
NCC’s 13th biennial Bushfire Conference has continued the event series’ long legacy of connecting people and diverse groups, facilitating the sharing of experiences, and stimulating ideas for more sustainable bushfire management, aiming to promote a healthier environment and more fire-resilient communities. Living in this age of rapidly worsening climate change, we are pleased that this conference provided opportunities to all delegates and their respective organisations to grow and adapt from the science, skills and stories shared, leading to better practices in bushfire management for both healthy landscapes and people. NCC looks forward to continuing the conversation at the 14th edition of the Bushfire Conference in 2025.
This NCC Bushfire Conference event was made possible thanks to the contributions of our generous sponsors, including our platinum sponsors: NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and WWF-Australia, gold sponsor: Toolijooa Environmental Restoration, silver sponsors: Local Land Services and Humane Society International Australia, and bronze sponsors: Western Sydney University, Eco Logical Australia, NSW Government Department of Planning and Environment Saving our Species Program, and NSW Government Department of Planning and Environment Science, Economics and Insights Division.
NCC would also like to acknowledge the NCC Bush Fire Advisory Committee (BFAC) and NCC Bushfire Program Coordinator for smooth facilitation of the conference sessions, in addition to the numerous NCC staff and volunteers who ensured that the event ran smoothly and was a success.
The NCC Bushfire Program also hosted an associated field day on the 26th May 2023, which further explored the theme of managing bushfire together. You can read more about the field day here.
If you’d like to view the recordings of all conference presentations in full, please take a look at our Bushfire Conference page for additional information on how to gain access. They are currently available for early access purchase.
You can learn more about the NCC Bushfire Program, including past conferences, here: https://www.nature.org.au/bushfire_program.