Fire management

In the past, use of fire and the resulting patch burning that occurred as Anangu moved across the central Australian landscape (including the Alinytjara Wilurara region) produced diverse ecological habitats that were adapted to (or dependent on) frequent to moderate burning.

From the 1950s, relocation of Aboriginal people to settlements and stations has resulted in dramatic changes in this landscape due to a lack of regular patch burning. This change in habits can have a major impact on biodiversity and increases the fuel load across large areas – making them prone to intensive bushfires.

Current fire management activities in the region aim to:

  • maintain the region’s cultural heritage and cultural assets
  • maintain biodiversity in what is largely a fire dependent landscape
  • protect built assets and communities
  • promote and use fire as a management tool
  • get a better understanding of:
    • the frequency and timing of traditional and natural burning cycles in the region
    • accompanying climate and weather conditions
    • the species that may be dependant on or sensitive to fire
    • the impacts of drought and climate change.

What is being done?

In 2014 the AW NRM Board (now AW Landscape Board) developed a fire management strategy to help plan how fire management activities are carried out across the Alinytjara Wilurara (AW) region. It incorporates contemporary fire management techniques with the Anangu practice of traditional patch burning.

As a hazard management action, Anangu burn country in and around communities to reduce large grass fuel loads and the subsequent threat that large wildfires can cause to homes, families, plants and animals.

Fire breaks and strategic burns are carefully planned to protect habitat areas of threatened plants and animals, such as the warru (black-footed rock wallaby, Petrogale lateralis), in line with the warru recovery program.