Managing landscapes with fire

Bringing back the traditional use of fire to manage landscapes


Farming Small Areas How To
Aa

For thousands of years, Aboriginal people have used fire to carefully manage traditional lands.

Aa
REGENERATIVE: Start of a low intensity cultural burn at Tarbuck Bay.

REGENERATIVE: Start of a low intensity cultural burn at Tarbuck Bay.

There has been a lot of interest building over the last few years in the use of traditional Aboriginal cultural burning.

For thousands of years, Aboriginal people have used fire to carefully manage traditional lands.

Cultural burning was used to generate new growth in grasslands.

This then provided 'green pick' for kangaroos which in turn provided a mainstay of protein in the community.

Careful use of managed fire can provide greater diversity within ecosystems and build resilience in the landscape.

The increases of nutrients from the ash also encourages healthy plant growth.

It also encourages a more reliable supply of bush tucker food sources.

Controlled cultural burns at the correct time of year lowers fuel loads.

It prevents the devastating effects of hot uncontrolled bushfires.

The low intensity and slow burning of traditional burning is gentle on the vegetation, retaining food sources and habitat for native animals.

Most importantly, however, cultural burning connects people to country.

That is an important aspect that can be easily overlooked.

The prime importance of cultural burning is the culture.

It is a practice that is interwoven in the lives of Aboriginal people.

Unburnt scrubby country is often referred to as 'sick country' in need of a burn to 'heal the land'.

While cultural burning has been continually practised in many rural and remote communities, it has been difficult to maintain in more developed areas.

This is due to legislation and a generalised fear of fires within the broader Australian community.

Cultural burning has increasingly being recognised by scientists, agencies, fire authorities and landholders as an effective management tool.

The benefits of cultural burning includes:

  • supplementing hazard reduction burning carried out by RFS;
  • weed management (due to the low intensity, fires can be more frequent then for hazard reduction burn methods);
  • environmental burning to maintain and increase biodiversity;
  • promoting and building cultural connectivity in Aboriginal communities managing traditional lands; and
  • providing employment opportunities to Aboriginal communities through paid Cultural Burn Practitioner services.

Tocal college has been working with Hunter LLS, Firesticks and Cultural Burn Practitioners to develop accredited training linked to the Diploma of Conservation and Land Management and promote cultural burning.

UNDER CONTROL: Maintaining the control line of a low intensity cultural burn.

UNDER CONTROL: Maintaining the control line of a low intensity cultural burn.

The purpose is to value add to the indigenous knowledge and skills training being taught through practical workshops with formal qualifications.

Over the last couple of years, cultural burn workshops in the Hunter and Central Coast have attracted great interest form a wide range of people and organisations.

It is really encouraging to see the increasing acceptance and support amongst wider communities for bringing back an important and effective tool for land management in Australia.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by