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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Indigenous fire training program bringing life back to country across regional NSW

Date posted: 17 May 2017

A five-year fauna monitoring project across four Indigenous Protected Areas (IPA's) in northern New South Wales (NSW) has demonstrated that cultural burning and traditional land management techniques are maintaining populations of threatened species.

The NSW Nature Conservation Council's Firesticks Project has been teaching Indigenous rangers how to use cold and hot fires to rejuvenate the country. The Firesticks Project is delivered by the Nature Conservation Council in partnership with Indigenous Protected Areas. Together they build on knowledge communities already have and look for ways to make use of technologies to support cultural identity and practice.

Minyuma IPA Coordinator, Daniel Gomes, said the results were fantastic. 'Our country hasn't been burnt for eight to ten years and once we put a burn through it the wildlife came back two fold,' he said.

A total of 217 vertebrate animal species (including frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals) have now been recorded in the IPA, with the monitoring surveys having contributed a substantial number of species not previously found there. 'Over the past two years we've been getting native ground covers coming back too. Kangaroos are back, and native trees have sprung up after the fire,' said Mr Gomes. 'If it wasn't for the Firesticks Project, we probably wouldn't have been trained up to be firefighters and produce burns on those blocks.'

Mr Gomes said the long term goal is to enable and empower Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities to work collectively towards resilient landscapes. 'All the Elders; they looked after them in the past and it's good to continue on that work they did a couple of hundreds of years ago looking after the land for our future generations.'

Richard Brittingham is the Firesticks Project Coordinator, and he said the data from the project will be collected and analysed, to be published in scientific journals. 'Hopefully these will set the scene for an on-going story of successful Indigenous flora and fauna management,' Mr Brittingham said.

Source: ABC


Last updated: 17 May 2017
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