Investing in people, communication pathways, education and on ground land management to create social and ecologically resilient landscapes.

The firesticks project uses the term ‘cultural burning’ to describe burning practices developed by Aboriginal people to enhance the health of the land and its people. Cultural burning can include burning (or prevention of burning) for the health of particular plants, animals and country. It may involve patch burning to create different fire intervals or used specifically for fuel and hazard reduction purposes. Fire may be used to gain better access to country, to clean up important pathways or to maintain cultural responsibilities.

Local people place a high value on their lands and view it as a significant cultural asset through which to practice and learn about their culture.

Why do Aboriginal people burn?  What are the values underlying cultural burning?

Through a series of workshops with its project partners Firesticks has worked to define the values and objectives underlying cultural burning to inform our on ground activities. The responses ranged across the natural, spiritual, economic, educational and social domains and encompass values that are both similar and different from mainstream environmental management. This is to be expected as cultural burning is based on an understanding (consistently expressed throughout Australia’s Indigenous groups) that a reciprocal arrangement exists between people and country. This is often summarised in “healthy people healthy country”. That is, healthy people with knowledge, authority and capacity are required to manage the country. In return a healthy landscape is required to support the physical, mental and spiritual needs of the people who are the managers. In practice this means Firesticks invests in people, in communication pathways, education and in on ground land management work to create a resilient social and ecological landscape. It is achieving this through the following processes:

  • AIR – Making Space: building understanding and recognition; sharing stories and information; connecting communities with each other and with land management/ fire practitioners; driving change.
  • HEAT – Facilitating Action: Delivering on ground planning; delivery training through workshops, working bees; managing country by burning and integrating weed management; revitalising country and knowledge by building community networks and recording cultural knowledge.
  • FUEL – Reading Country: Supporting future work by providing evidence for the effect that cultural fire is having a positive impact. Using Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal monitoring methods to support learning by observation and the importance of sharing of knowledge (mentoring).