UPDATE: Moonbahlene Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive officer Helen Duroux advises that the Traditional Fire Burn workshop set for this week has been postponed, in light of the current fire crisis.
"Our traditional fire burn has been deferred for a while to let the community get better for a bit after the recent fires," she said.
The rescheduled dates will be advised.
EARLIER: Indigenous fire burns worked for many thousands of years before European settlement and practices contributed to the devastation caused by Tenterfield bushfires in February/March. Local landholders and authorities now have the opportunity to learn from those traditional methods at a workshop on September 11 and 12 conducted by nationally-recognised Tradition Burning Man Victor Stephenson.
The workshop starts with a presentation at the Tenterfield School of Arts at 6pm on Wednesday night, for a discussion on how traditional practices influence the landscape.
This will be followed by a practical demonstration at Tenterfield Park (off Derby Street) the following morning at 8am, but only if conditions are ideal. Participants are advised to wear a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy boots and sunscreen, and to bring drinking water.
The workshop will address how these traditional techniques not only benefit land health but increase biodiversity while managing wildfire risk through reducing fuel loads and creating fire breaks.
The workshop is the culmination of a commitment by Moonbahlene Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive officer Helen Duroux at the March fire debrief to seek the advice of a professional indigenous fire technician. At that time there were moves by disgruntled landholders including Councillor Bronwyn Petrie to have an indigenous fire crew delegated to carry out fuel reduction.
NSW Local Land Services is funding the event, hosted by Moonbahlene.
Ivan Lackay, Northern Tablelands LLS Aboriginal communities officer, recognises the benefits and cultural significance of traditional fire burning practices.
"There are a number of benefits that come out of traditional burning, otherwise known as 'cool' or 'cultural' burning," he explained.
"Burning encourages the regeneration of native grasses and production of new feed. It reduces scrub and fuel which helps in preventing intense future bushfires. Importantly, it assists in promoting biodiversity."
With fire danger looking to increase as summer approaches due to the current conditions, Ivan is encouraging community members, as well as landholders, to take part in the workshops. The practices taught will be particularly relevant regarding the reduction of fuel as a preventive measure.
Fire burning practices require a thorough understanding of local conditions to ensure they are effective as well as safe.
Northern Tablelands LLS works in partnership with the Rural Fire Service in coordinating fire burning practices. It is a stipulation that the Rural Fire Service be informed and in attendance when burning.
Ivan is encouraged by the shift that is taking place in the recognition and adoption of some of the traditional Aboriginal land management practices that have a positive impact on sustainable land management.
"Passing on local traditional Aboriginal knowledge and educating people to increase their understanding of the benefits is vitally important for our modern-day agricultural practices," he said.