Timeless cultural burning practices returned to Narungga recently with low-intensity burns at sites on Yorke Peninsula.
The Northern and Yorke Landscape Board is collaborating with First Nations people, Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to undertake cultural burning on Country, with funding from WWF-Australia’s Regenerate Australia program.
The Board engaged Tagalaka man and Firesticks’ Lead Fire Practitioner Victor Steffensen, who holds fire workshops across Australia, to share his knowledge with First Nations people.
Also known as fire-stick farming, cultural burning is a complex practice based on low intensity, cool burns with low flame height, that destroy weeds and promote native vegetation regrowth, particularly grasses.
It is a return to the traditional practices of Aboriginal communities that used fire as one of their tools to manage the land.
Narungga man Cyril Kartinyeri welcomed the return to cultural burning on Yorke Peninsula.
“We are excited to share our knowledge with the wider community about how we care for Country,” he said.
The cultural burns are the result of several months of planning, which began last year with Mr Steffensen joining Narungga representatives in visiting potential sites between Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park and Ardrossan.
The Northern and Yorke Landscape Board held a workshop in Clare with attendees from the Department for Environment and Water (DEW), Country Fire Service, Metropolitan Fire Service, local government, the Native Vegetation Council and First Nations people, who have all played a part in the project’s planning and delivery.
The project culminated with burns led by Mr Steffensen with the involvement of about 20 First Nations people.
The burns were held at Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park, on private land near Warooka and at a grasslands site in Ardrossan.
Northern and Yorke Landscape Board Aboriginal Partnerships Officer Matthew Turner said it was an exciting opportunity for the region, as cultural burning has become rare in southern Australia since colonisation.
“Through this project we hope to build capacity in First Nations communities to continue to conduct cultural burning and help prevent large-scale wildfires in the future,” he said.
“The use of fire in the landscape has incredibly important cultural outcomes for Traditional Owners, and is also intended to eventually complement DEW’s prescribed burning program.”
This cultural burning project is part of Marna Banggara, an ambitious project to restore lost species to the landscape.