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Beyond the Black Summer Bushfire

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In April 2022, the BAC commenced an exciting new project to reinstate Butchulla cultural burns on K’gari. Partnering with the Everick Foundation and supported by a 2-year Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grant from the Australian Government, the project takes a staged approach to building BAC and partner capacity to support cultural burns on K’gari.

Reinstating cultural burns on K’gari to increase the island’s resilience to climate change (Photo: BAC)

The Butchulla Fire Management and Heritage Conservation Project provides employment, training and capacity-building opportunities for Butchulla Rangers. The project stages are:

  1. Upskilling and training – building Butchulla capacity to co-manage fire on K’gari (from Fire Level I to Incident Control).
  2. Getting equipped and fire-ready – ensuring that the BAC Community Rangers and staff can safely participate in fire management.
  3. Conducting surveys – developing a methodology to ensure that cultural and natural heritage can be mapped and managed/protected during burns.
  4. Data management – developing a system to collect and report data supporting improved fire management of cultural and natural heritage assets on K’gari.
  5. Developing a K’gari Fire Management Plan – recognising the aspirations of the Butchulla community for cultural burns and fire management (currently under development).

The project team has undertaken an extensive skills audit of Butchulla community members to identify those with existing fire management training or interested in furthering their skills in this area. As a result, four Butchulla community members were identified for skill development. Training commenced in October 2022.

The BAC’s fire response has also been enhanced by new equipment, including updates to the slip-on fire unit for the vehicle, identifying stickers (B001) and VHF radios for both the vehicle and base office in Pialba.

Surveying the Oysterman’s Lease Block (Photo: Everick Foundation)

Finally, a survey of the newly acquired Oysterman’s Lease has been conducted, with a cultural burn plan under development for the block.   

The project is re-igniting Butchulla use of gira (fire) and enabling intergenerational sharing and transfer of knowledge from elders to the BAC’s Land and Sea Rangers and staff, increasing the capacity of the BAC to lead and deliver traditional burns in the future. In addition, it empowers the BAC to support sustainable bushfire risk management beyond the project’s life, increasing K’gari’s resilience to the risks of climate change.

Article contributed by Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation

1 Comment

  1. Zela says:

    Wonderful project. Bring back cultural burns.

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