Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Forum builds effective fire management knowledge

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Cape York Natural Resource Management, eBulletin January 2022

More investment in aerial incendiary fire management, greater communication and collaboration between landholder groups and neighbours, and more information about opportunities in the Carbon industry were among some of the key call-outs from the 2021 Fire Forum held in Cairns in December.

Photo courtesy Cape York Natural Resource Management

Organised by Cape York Natural Resource Management, the Forum brought more than 130 people together from Cape York, the Tablelands, Brisbane and Darwin.  

A survey conducted after the event found more than 96% of respondents agreed that the Forum increased their knowledge of effective fire management practices on Cape York. A similar percentage said they felt it helped them better understand where they could access additional support, or gave them ideas to address barriers.

The two-day forum heard from Indigenous Ranger groups, Traditional Owners, fire practitioners, scientists, land holders, government departments, Queensland police, the SES, carbon farming experts and computer programmers.  

Under the theme of “Tools for Fire Management” presentations ranged from techniques for managing fire; the use of technology and satellite imagery; and how sharing this information and being a united front will help mitigate the devastating cultural, environmental and economic threats posed by fire.

It was also a catch up for many friends who rarely see each other when living in the remote Cape York Country.

“That was a particular highlight of  the Forum – the networking that evolved over the two days,” Cape York Fire Project Officer and Forum coordinator Alex Debono said. “As was the feedback we had on the diversity of the people and the presentations.”

Survey attendees found some of the most popular aspects of the Forum were the presentations from Indigenous groups whose stories provided a window into the challenges and successes of managing fire on Country.

“The two that really stood out in the respondents’ minds were the shared experiences from Bromley Aboriginal Corporation and Gambir Yidinji Cultural Heritage and Protection,” Alex said.

“One was an incredibly candid review of the challenges of trying to find common ground when a Land Title arrangement does not take into account the cultural differences between tribes; the latter was a story of success through collaboration and the meeting of modern and ancient worlds.”

The Forum was live streamed and the event recorded so these, and all other presentations, are available online.

“The live streaming opened up attendance to a wider audience and now provides a permanent resource for those that couldn’t attend, or for attendees to revisit key presentations,” Alex said. 

Other take-away observations for future fire management included: 

  • More evaluation of past events to ensure observations are measurable, and improve fire science;
  • Development of joint information products – for example, regional fine-scale fire scar mapping;
  • More mentoring and succession planning;
  • More Indigenous voices talking about living on and managing country;
  • Stronger communication network between industries, pastoralists, Indigenous Landowners and National Parks;
  • Updating information about the carbon industry; and
  • Development of a Cape York insurance working group.
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