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First Nations fire management

First Nations have harnessed fire and used it to their advantage since time immemorial, resulting in a deep knowledge and skilful practices for burning their Country.

First Nations' burning practices continue in some parts of South Australia while the impacts of colonisation has seen a discontinuation of Aboriginal fire practice in other areas.

We are in the very early stages working with some First Nations to understand their fire-related interests and to support their cultural burning practices.

First Nations burning in the state’s far north

DEW in partnership with the Witjira Co-Management Board successfully carried out a First Nations-led burn on co-managed land in South Australia in November 2017.

The burn took place in the National Heritage Listed Witjira-Dalhousie Springs complex within Witjira National Park. DEW Cultural Ranger Dean Ah Chee used traditional firesticks to light the burn, which traveled across approximately 330 hectares of the Common Reed (Phragmites australis) vegetation growing in and around the springs.

Dean Ah Chee guided the DEW fire management staff around the spring area during the burn, using markers to show where access was allowed and which areas to avoid for cultural reasons.

The health of Ngintaka (perentie goanna) Dreaming land improved after this traditional cultural burn combined with a prescribed burn to protect, expand and conserve habitat and the ecological diversity of critically endangered species.

The burn coincided with the release of a Witjira Waru Pulka (Fire Management) Strategy.

Dean Ah Chee painted the seasons, in and around the park, to help produce this strategy. It looks at Aboriginal burning techniques to protect the environment and cultural values in the park, drawing on aboriginal culture and western science.

Dean Ah Chee believes the strategy represents an important partnership with the traditional owners of Witjira National Park and DEW, builds on Reconciliation and makes the landscape healthier.

Ninti Kungka (smart women) protecting sacred women’s site

See how a sacred women’s site is protected by an all-woman fire management crew, led by First Nations women, in Witjira National Park.

WARNING: Aboriginal viewers should be aware that this video may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

Ninti Kungka (smart women) protecting sacred women’s site