Nowra cultural burn sparks shared learning and community connections

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) this month supported a cultural burn at Triplarina Nature Reserve, West Nowra, alongside Aboriginal fire practitioners from the Nowra Aboriginal community and Firesticks Alliance members.

Cultural burn at Triplarina Nature Reserve, West Nowra.

NPWS Team Leader Ranger, Julieanne Doyle, said cultural burns benefit the environment and support Aboriginal community engagement in caring for Country.

"For thousands of years, Aboriginal people have practiced cultural burning," said Ms Doyle.

"Cultural burns come in many forms and in this burn the undergrowth was burnt very slowly, with each section lit from a single ignition point.

"Cultural burns reduce fuel loads to help prevent the potential spread of wildfire, spark plant germination including threatened plant species, suppress weeds and reinvigorate the landscape.

"One of the main reasons NPWS supports traditional fire practices, is to partner with Aboriginal people in actively caring for Country. Healthy Country is a goal we share.

"Cultural burns provide an opportunity for Elders to share traditional fire practices with younger generations, foster an appreciation for Country and provide opportunities to connect to the land.

Noel Webster, an Aboriginal Community Support Officer involved in the cultural burn, explained that the development of collaborative knowledge and partnerships to care for Country has many benefits.

"Our first burn the other day is the start of a holistic journey, we pay respects to all those involved and extend the invitation to those who would like to walk this journey with us well into the future," said Mr Webster.

Ms Doyle said cultural burns are often uplifting, positive experiences where traditional knowledge is exchanged, from discovering the right time to burn specific plant communities, learning the rate of spread and how quickly the burnt landscape will return to vivid green.

"It's a great chance for communities to work together and is often a healing process for both the people and the land.

"NPWS would like to thank Aboriginal fire practitioners who took part in the cultural burn, staff from the University of Wollongong and members of the Firesticks Alliance, an organisation dedicated to building recognition of cultural practice and knowledge, particularly with young Aboriginal people," said Ms Doyle.

Photos for media: Cultural burn at Triplarina Nature Reserve, West Nowra – National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) this month supported a cultural burn at Triplarina Nature Reserve, West Nowra, alongside Aboriginal fire