Indigenous people from southern Australia are re-engaging with cultural fire management practices via diverse and innovative enterprises and partnerships. This research investigated the many benefits derived by Indigenous fire managers and their partners- from cultural burning partnerships, projects and activities.

The challenge

Traditional fire burning

Indigenous cultural fire management or 'cultural burning' reflects practices, relationships and knowledge of fire form an integral part of Indigenous governance systems. These practices have been crucial to the successful management of Australian landscapes for thousands of years and enable diverse, ongoing management efforts and Indigenous enterprises across the continent.

However, to date, there has been little research into the many benefits that Indigenous fire managers and their partners derive from cultural fire management, and, indeed, on frameworks to enable Indigenous groups and their partners to capture information on these benefits to share with partners, funders and potential investors.

Our response

Working with partners

This research, funded by the National Landcare Program and CSIRO, was guided by a self-selected advisory group comprised of Indigenous and non-indigenous fire experts from SE Australia. The advisory group included representatives from the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, NSW Aboriginal Affairs, Gumma Indigenous Protected Area, Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (Victoria), Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority ( Victoria), NSW Department of Environment, Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation, University of Technology, Sydney, Aboriginal Land Council Tasmania, and the National Landcare Program. 

CSIRO researchers worked with the Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation and representatives from a variety of Indigenous and non-indigenous organisations and enterprises, and some of their partners, to investigate the many benefits accrued by Indigenous fire managers and their partners from cultural burning partnerships, projects and activities. Participating organisations/enterprises included: Banbai Enterprise Development Aboriginal Corporation NSW; the Bunya Murri Rangers and Burnett Mary Regional Group QLD; Aboriginal Land Council Tasmania and Tasmania Fire Service; Euroa Arboretum, and the Victorian Country Fire Authority.

The results

Supporting cultural fire management

The research is documented in an edited report. The report provides an overview of Indigenous cultural fire management in SE Australia. It includes chapters that outline the work conducted by each of the participating organisations/enterprises, and an analysis of the many benefits accrued by Indigenous fire managers (and their partners) from this important work.

Finally, the report provides the derived potential reporting framework that could be used by Indigenous managers (and their partners) to report on the benefits of Indigenous cultural fire management to the National Landcare Program.

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