As Australian firefighters battle intense flames attention has turned to a more traditional way to deal with the cycle of bushfire seasons.
Indigenous burning methods have largely been overlooked until now.
Twenty eight-year-old indigenous man Jacob Morris was taught the techniques by his family.
He says controlled burning is not only important for clearing out what could fuel fires but also for revitalizing bushland.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) 28-YEAR-OLD INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIAN, JACOB MORRIS SAYING:
“The wrong management was the ‘match’ to make that big mega fire. So with our cultural burning in the right fire, a lot is supposed to be preventable. And if not preventable we will ease the amount of damage, assets lost, lives lost, especially to the nature as well, animals and trees.”
A low intensity fire is lit when there’s no wind- and weather is still cool.
That’s when it’s still safe to clear the low-lying scrub that’s usually perfect fuel for a fire.
Aboriginal communities have been practicing controlled burning for generations.
And recently Morris got to share this knowledge in an exchange with a Canadian first nations man Jordan Profeit.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) MEMBER OF CANADA’S YUKON FIRST NATION’S WILD FIRE, JORDAN PROFEIT, SAYING:
“You know, back home we do prescribed burns but it’s mainly just, it’s small scale, that has to change. We are seeing the effects of it, the amount of fuel is growing and when we don’t have people managing it, it’s creating these fires that we really can’t fight.”
The bushfires this year have been deadly and by the end of January they had incerated a stretch of land one-third the size of Germany.
The fire officials who have responded to months of unpredictable and intense fires say controlled burning isn’t a panacea but is a valuable tool.
Morris hopes that there can be more joint oversight of land management between indigenous groups and Australia’s rural fire service.
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