Shared and growing knowledge from the Aboriginal community could help manage and mitigate Tasmania’s fire risk, by returning to traditional fire management practices.
A two day Aboriginal community fire gathering in September will bring the aboriginal community together to build and share knowledge about indigenous fire practices in Tasmania.
“I think there's a lot of potential for traditional aboriginal fire management principles to be incorporated into modern society,” Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre land and heritage project officer Andry Sculthorpe said.
“We’re at a time now where the Tasmanian community is looking for ways to address the ongoing ... increased risk in fact of wildfire and poor fire management,”
Prior to white settlement, using fire to manage the landscape was an important aboriginal practice. Much of this knowledge has been lost, but it is now being refound.
“We know that in Tasmania burning the country was big part of the culture. Unfortunately a lot of that has stopped because of white invasion,” Mr Sculthorpe said.
“The idea of this is to bring the aboriginal community together to start to build and develop knowledge around the application of traditional fire [in Tasmania].”
Queensland indigenous fire practitioner Victor Steffensen will be at the event, working with the community to share and develop fire management knowledge.
“It’s about listening to the land and doing what the land needs to … be rich and full of diversity and life, and fire was used to maintain that diversity,” he said.
Mr Steffensen said contemporary views of fire are detrimental.
“People are afraid of fire and fighting fire but that’s a view that’s completely disconnected from the land,” he said.
“That’s why we’re coming up with a lot of problems with fire because we’ve stopped using it the right way.”
Mr Steffensen thinks traditional fire management should play a bigger role in land management.
“We need to start changing our practices … and listening to practices that have been here for the last thousand years,” he said.
“There’s a whole wealth of knowledge that everyone’s missing out on.”
Mr Sculthorpe wants to share the knowledge they build on how fire can be used in Tasmania, and to develop relationships with land and fire management bodies.