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Cultural Burning: Interesting Takeaways from a Burning Walk & Talk

  • 1.  Cultural Burning: Interesting Takeaways from a Burning Walk & Talk

    Posted 02-05-2023 09:03

    Landcare Tasmania go on A Burning Walk & Talk

    Last Saturday, over 20 attendees gathered in Cradoc to hear from Jason Andrew Smith about managing country with traditional knowledge and cool burning. 

    Interesting takeaways about cultural burning:

    • Good fire is low intensity and cool. it doesn't reach the canopy. 
    • Burning over 1ha is not good for ecosystem/habitat as it doesn't allow for animals to move on
    • Wallaby tracks act as "natural" firebreaks 
    • Build up of debris that should be burnt (i.e. string bark at the base of a  tree) was causing tree roots to rot 
    • Using fire, Jason has regenerated a previous dried up dam to hold water on his property    


    Image: A great turnout for this weekend event

    Participants were excited and grateful for the opportunity to learn from Jason, who started the workshop with a smoking ceremony to welcome everyone to country.

    Jason took the group on a walk around his property in Cradoc and showed them how he has been using traditional methods to make the country healthy again. 

    Jason showed us areas that hadn't been burned where the bracken fern was dense and "too high".  This dense understory becomes a fire hazard as it provides fuel for fire to burn hot and on a large scale. 

    He explained that the palawa/pakana used to manage country so that the understory was much less dense so that people and animals could walk in every direction and trees had space to grow - more of an "open woodland". 

    Jason showed us how he uses a single mattress to flatten bracken fern before burning - the audience found this hilarious. Jason emphasizes there were once cultural layers for managing bush other than fire. Country was kept healthy through cultural practices as much as it was managed for fuel reduction.

    For example he pointed out how browning reeds would have been used to make canoes and stringy bark would have been gathered by women ultimately reducing the fire risk in these ecosystems. Fire was in many ways to manage country for food and living - rather than only to reduce risk.

    More resources:

    Source: Landcare Tas


    Emily Mason
    Sydney NSW