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Bushfire Conference 2023

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) hosted our 13th Biennial Bushfire Conference - 'Managing Bushfire Together: applying science, skills and stories' on Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th May 2023, with an additional Ku-ring-gai Field Day taking place on Friday 26th May 2023.
The event was held both live and online (hybrid) in Sydney at the Teachers Federation Conference Centre in Surry Hills, Sydney. A conference dinner, poster session, and field day all took place in addition to core conference proceedings.

Dates: Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th May 2023, with a Field Day on Friday 26th May 2023.

Location: Teachers Federation Conference Centre, 37 Reservoir St, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Sydney. Gadigal land.



Download the Conference Program Here


Wednesday 24th May:

Included presentations from Platinum Sponsors NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and WWF-Australia.

Addresses and keynotes:

  • Commissioner Rob Rogers ASFM, NSW Rural Fire Service. Address.
  • Oliver Costello, Jagun Alliance Aboriginal Corporation. "Connecting to Jagun (Country) for healing and community resilience."
  • Dr Sarah Harris, Country Fire Authority. "Climate change and bushfire management."
  • Professor David Lindenmayer, The Australian National University. "Forests, forestry and fire"


  • Melissa O’Halloran and Susannah Bilous, Bush Fire Risk Planning, NSW Rural Fire Service."Bush Fire Risk Management Planning; incorporating recommendations from the 2019-20 Bushfire Inquiry"
  • Darren Grover, WWF-Australia. "A multi-faceted response to recovery from the Black Summer fires".
  • Prof Ross Bradstock, NSW Department of Planning and Environment. "Transforming the capacity to manage bushfire risks to biodiversity and environment values: the NSW DPE ABS program.“
  • Dr Angie Haslem, La Trobe University. "What does successful fire management look like? Measuring and evaluating ecological outcomes, a case study using fire management in Victoria."
  • Dr Simon Heemstra, AFAC - the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services in Australia and New Zealand. "The science of change: the new Australian Fire Danger Rating System."
  • Dr Carrie Wilkinson, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. "Developing fire refugia mapping protocols."
  • Laura Rigby, RMIT University. "Native and exotic species respond differently to varied fire frequency in a temperate grassland."
  • Dr Justin Collette, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. "Forecasting and mitigating the fire severity risk in koala habitat."
  • Andrew Sturgess and Mark Schuster, RedEye and Ku-ring-gai Council. "Bringing local knowledge, science and technology together to deliver an evidence based decision support system."
  • Renee Woodward, Science Economics and Insights Division, NSW Department of Planning and Environment. "Fire response strategies: groupings to estimate risk to species from fire."
  • Dr Jane Williamson, Australian Catholic University. "Similar fire history does not equate to similar fauna habitat in structurally similar vegetation."
  • Dr Claudia Santori, Oceanwatch Australia. "Walking the landscape to increase community resilience toward bushfires."
  • Uncle Lexodious Dadd and Dr Marnie Graham, Yanama Budyari Gumada collective and Macquarie University. "Biyani Guwiyang Dharug Ngurruwa: Healing Fire on Dharug Country."

The conference poster session, sponsored by the Humane Society International (HSI), was held at the Teachers Federation Conference Centre after the conclusion of presentations on the 24th of May.

The conference dinner, sponsored by Local Land Services (LLS) was be held from 7:15pm that evening at the Rydges Sydney Central Hotel, Surry Hills.


Thursday 25th May:


  • Associate Professor Lauren Bennett The University of Melbourne. "Fires and forests – can we assume carbon stability and neutrality."
  • Professor Euan Ritchie Deakin University. "Burning issues: managing fire and interacting threats for effective ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation.”


  • Leanne King Koori Country Cultural Fire Aboriginal Corporation, Djurali Pty Ltd. "Coming together to benefit community and Country.“
  • Dr Philip Zylstra Curtin University. "Cooperation with Country.“
  • Maame Adwoa Maisie, University of Wollongong. "Twentieth Century change in the fire events of the Blue Mountains of NSW as recorded in the accumulation and character of charcoal in Temperate Highland Peat Swamps."
  • Mercedes Ondik, University of New South Wales. "Black Summer impacts on people and soil reveal a need to engage the public in soil monitoring."
  • Dr Rowena Morris and Dr Rachael Gallagher, Science Economics and Insights Division, NSW Department of Planning and Environment and Western Sydney University. "Introducing the NSW Bushfire and Natural Hazards Research Centre."
  • Libby Mapletoft, National Parks & Wildlife Services SA. "Protecting significant environmental assets during prescribed burning: a case study in the Fleurieu Peninsula, SA."
  • Dr Andy Baker, Southern Cross University. "The NSW State Vegetation Type Map undermines ecological fire management in dry sclerophyll forests on the NSW north coast."
  • Andrew Denham, NSW Department of Planning and Environment. "Post-fire Acacia thickets are not necessarily a sign of long term vegetation change."
  • Dr Michelle McKemey and Aunty Lesley Patterson, Melaleuca Environmental Consultancy Services, University of New England, and Banbai Rangers. "Using ‘right-way’ science to recover from bushfires."
  • Dr Isabel Sebastian, Cardiff University. "Cultural fire practice in Yuin Country – perspectives on barriers and enablers within current land governance and decision-making."
  • Anastasia Guise, Fire Stories Project. "Documenting impacts and facilitating healing: the Fire Stories community-led storytelling project."

Our conference panel was chaired by Greg Mullins AO AFSM, former Commissioner Fire & Rescue NSW; Former AFAC President; Founder, Emergency Leaders for Climate Action; Climate Councillor; member NSW Bushfire Coordinating Committee; RFS Group Officer and Member NCC Bushfire Advisory Committee. The other panel participants were: Oli Costello (Jagun Alliance Aboriginal Corporation), Prof Euan Ritchie (Deakin University), Dr Rowena Morris (Science Economics and Insights Division, NSW Department of Planning and Environment) and Anastasia Guise (Fire Stories Project).


Field Day - Friday 26th May:

Following the Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) Bushfire Conference 2023, many delegates joined us for a day in the field to learn about managing fire together at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden in St Ives, Sydney, on Friday 26th May 2023. Delegates heard from representatives from Ku-ring-gai Council (Mark Schuster, Dr Jennifer Scott, James Chan), Ku-ring-gai Rural Fire Service Brigade (Sam Tucker), The University of Melbourne (Prof Alan York), Western Sydney University and the NCC Bush Fire Advisory Committee (Dr Grahame Douglas), RMIT University (PhD Student Zoe D’Arcy), NCC, and more.

Delegates had the opportunity to delve into the Climate Wise Communities program and engage in a Simtable demonstration to learn how they could create fire adapted communities and foster community resilience. Delegates also got to explore how adaptive fire management can be used for the protection of community, ecological and heritage values during a bushwalk through beautiful Blue Gum High Forest, fire-adapted Mallee, Upland Swamp and more. The walk took delegates through Red-crowned Toadlet and Eastern Pygmy Possum habitat with time to ask questions to local experts and land managers, share their experiences, and stimulate ideas for their own practices and projects. 

Theme: Managing Bushfire Together: Applying science, skills and stories


1) Heat: Climate Change and Changing Systems

2) Oxygen: Recovery, Resilience and Innovation

3) Fuel: Collaborative Communities

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW would like to acknowledge the generous support of our conference sponsors

For any enquiries, please email us at:

[email protected]


The Nature Conservation Council of NSW acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands and waters of Australia. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present. We aspire to learn from their traditional knowledge to help nature thrive.