Aboriginal burning issues in the southern Tanami: towards understanding traditional based fire knowledge in a contemporary context

Aboriginal burning issues in the southern Tanami: towards understanding traditional based fire knowledge in a contemporary context Project Resources

DKCRC Research Report - Desert Fire: fire and regional land management in the arid landscapes of Australia

  • Author(s): Vaarzon-Morel, P, Gabrys, K
  • Secondary Author(s): Edwards, GP, Allan, GE
  • Published: 2009
  • Publisher: Desert Knowledge CRC
  • Volume: 37

Abstract: Recent wildfire events in central Australia have raised awareness as well as conflict about fire management. Consequently, as part of the Desert Fire project, a research initiative was developed to promote the coexistence of fire, people and biodiversity in the Tanami Desert, with the long-term future goal of developing a collaborative regional fire strategy. The southern Tanami Desert was chosen as a regional case study, due to consecutive wildfire events and reported conflict between Aboriginal and pastoral land holders in the region. The research involved the collaboration of the Central Land Council (CLC) and the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport (NRETAS): Division of Biodiversity Conservation, and Bushfires NT on two subprojects. The first subproject, driven by NRETAS, developed a detailed fire history of the region and evaluated the perspectives of pastoral land managers on fire management issues (Allan 2009). The second subproject was driven by the CLC and is the subject of this chapter. A study was devised to address fire issues from the perspective of Aboriginal people in the southern Tanami. The research focused on finding out why, how, when and where Aboriginal people burn, and who is doing the burning. It also sought to determine Aboriginal perceptions of fire issues and conflicts (if any), local interest in livelihoods in relation to fire, and current fire knowledge and use of tradition-derived fire practices in the contemporary context. Field work was conducted on these issues in the three predominantly Warlpiri communities of Yuendumu, Nyirrpi (also partly Pintupi) and Willowra. The research used social science methods associated with qualitative inquiry.

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