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FIRE: Fighting Insurgency Ruining the Environment

Funding agency: EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 796086. Duration: 2018-ongoing

Interest in the relationship between environmental degradation and conflict is growing despite the lack of consensus over its nature. Yet most discussions of the environment-conflict nexus still take for granted the direction of causality and seek to demonstrate whether—or the extent to which—environmental factors such as droughts spawned by climate change cause or contribute to violent political conflict. The FIRE project reverses this causality and delves into the connection between violent conflict and environmental degradation.

The project contributes to the existing state of knowledge and literature on the relationship between conflict and forest fires in theselected areas in the Middle East. This was an innovative approach both empirically and methodologically. In terms of empirical knowledge, the research provided data analysis on the forest fires (provided from NASA) in the selected cases, and their connection to conflict (data provided by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program). Especially given the political nature of these conflicts,the project specifically focused on the narratives about forest fires under examination. The project used available data on fires and conflict and combined it with the discourse analysis of the existing accounts that were available in newspaper articles, reports, official statements, and the local witness accounts.


The FIRE project examines forest fires in the Middle East with following research questions:

  • Is there a positive correlation between inter- and intra-state conflicts and forest fires?
  • How do conflicts affect ecosystems and their inhabitants and biodiversity?
  • How do conflicting groups discursively use forest fires?


Dinc, Pinar, Lina Eklund, Aiman Shahpurwala, Petter Pilesjö, Ali Mansourian & Augustus Aturinde. (2021). "Fighting Insurgency, Ruining the Environment: the Case of Forest Fires in the Dersim Province of Turkey". Human Ecology, 49(4), 481-493.

Dinc, Pinar. (2020). “Çözüm süreci sonrası Dersim'de orman yangınları ve çatışma ilişkisi” [Forest Fires and Conflict Nexus in Dersim after the PeaceProcess], Birikim, 378, 109-120.

Dinc, Pinar. (2021). “Forest fires in Dersim and Şırnak: Conflict and Environmental Destruction”. In Stephen E. Hunt (ed), Kurdish Ecology: Environmental Thought, Challenges and Activism. Lexington Books.

Dinc, Pinar (2022). "Environmental Racism and Resistance in Kurdistan"The Commentaries2(1), 39–48.

Eklund, Lina, Abdulhakim M. Abdi, Aiman Shahpurwala & Pinar Dinc. (2021). "On the Geopolitics of Fire, Conflict and Land in the Kurdistan Region of IraqRemote Sensing. 13(8),1575.

Research Team

Pinar Dinc (Principal Investigator), Researcher at CMES and the Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science (Lund University)

pinar [dot] dinc [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se (pinar[dot]dinc[at]nateko[dot]lu[dot]se)

Lina Eklund, Researcher at CMES and the Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science (Lund University)

lina [dot] eklund [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se (lina[dot]eklund[at]nateko[dot]lu[dot]se)

Petter Pilesjö, Professor at the Centre for Geographical Information Systems (GIS Centre, Lund University)

petter [dot] pilesjo [at] gis [dot] lu [dot] se (petter[dot]pilesjo[at]gis[dot]lu[dot]se)