Recently Warndu's founders, Rebecca Sullivan and Damien Coulthard, were privileged enough to attend a Cultural burn on Nukunu Country with thanks to the invitation of our friend Jared Thomas and the extended Thomas family. Rather excitingly the day was hosted by what can only be described as Fire Legend and Author of Firesticks Country, Victor Steffanson, Founder of Firesticks Alliance.
Australia’s climate is such that fire has long shaped the landscape here. For a milenia Rebecca and Damien's son Mallee’s ancestors have been harvesting plant and animal species using traditional techniques that help ensure long-term use, and they would have used cultural or “cool” burning as part of those practices.
A cultural burn is a preventative action that uses small, cooler, controlled flames, unlike the raging hot and rapidly spreading fires we see today. Indigenous people who practice cultural burns have learned how to manage the size, shape, direction, and duration of the fire, and they can read the habitat, vegetation, soil-type and moisture levels to determine when and how they go about the burn.
This knowledge and craft allow them to curate a powerfully regenerative system in which they can burn the invasive weeds or plants they don’t want while allowing native species and desired plants to regrow more readily. Burning cool means the fire can be controlled and ensures that when fire comes, it does its job of regeneration, rather than destroying everything in its path. Indeed, much of the flora native to Australia has evolved to cope with and even rely on the sorts of fires that are common to the continent.
A passion of the Warndu Founders, being able to see this practice in action on Nukunu country was an absolute joy and something they are hoping to continue learning more about and eventually encourage the practice and host Leaders in the field to pass on this knowledge to integrate technology, new learned skills in our modern CFS/MFS ways and utilise the Indigenous knowledge to prevent the bushfires we see all too frequently.
Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation is an Indigenous led network and aims to re-invigorate the use of cultural burning by facilitating cultural learning pathways to fire and land management. It is an initiative for Indigenous and non- Indigenous people to look after Country, share their experiences and collectively explore ways to achieve their goals.
The work that Firesticks Alliance is not just important in our opinion it is urgent.
Support the Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation as they continue providing Indigenous leadership, advocacy and action to protect Country through cultural fire and land management practices.