Indigenous fire management is experiencing a resurgence worldwide. Northern Australia is the world leader in Indigenous savanna burning, delivering social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits. In 2016, a greenhouse gas abatement fire program commenced in the savannas of south-eastern Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, managed by the Indigenous Yugul Mangi rangers. We undertook participatory action research and semi-structured interviews with rangers and Elders during 2016 and 2019 to investigate Indigenous knowledge and obtain local feedback about fire management. Results indicated that Indigenous rangers effectively use cross-cultural science (including local and Traditional Ecological Knowledge alongside western science) to manage fire. Fire management is a key driver in the production of bush tucker (wild food) resources and impacts other cultural and ecological values. A need for increased education and awareness about Indigenous burning was consistently emphasized. To address this, the project participants developed the Yugul Mangi Faiya En Sisen Kelenda (Yugul Mangi Fire and Seasons Calendar) that drew on Indigenous knowledge of seasonal biocultural indicators to guide the rangers’ fire management planning. The calendar has potential for application in fire management planning, intergenerational transfer of Indigenous knowledge and locally driven adaptive fire management.
McKemey, Michelle; Ens, Emilie; Rangers, Yugul Mangi; Costello, Oliver; Reid, Nick. 2020. Indigenous knowledge and seasonal calendar inform adaptive savanna burning in northern Australia. Sustainability 12(3):995. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030995