Wadawurrung oversee cultural burning to manage precious woodlands

June 5, 2021 BY

The land in the burns holds significant importance to the Wadawurrung. Photo: STREAMLINE MEDIA

WADAWURRUNG Traditional Owners have conducted cultural burns near the You Yangs and in Teesdale as part of the Grassy Eucalypt Woodland Cultural Burning Project.

The burns – on the western edge of the You Yangs and at Bakers Lane Reserve – contain critically endangered grassy eucalypt woodlands and hold significant importance to the Wadawurrung.

This project aims to improve the understanding of the use of cultural burning as a management tool in grassy eucalypt woodlands and embed Traditional Owner practices into natural resource management.

The project is a partnership between land managers and project partners including the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Parks Victoria, Forest Fire Management Victoria, Golden Plains Shire Council and CFA.

This project is supported by Corangamite CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

“Cultural burning is about healing Country, connecting with Country and with family … and refreshing the cycle,” Wadawurrung Traditional Owner Michael Cook said.

CCMA project officer Jess Lill said using cultural burning was about engaging Traditional Owner practices.

“We have had so many learnings,” she said.

“We hope for this to be an ongoing learning and knowledge exchange.

“Cultural burning is a really important management tool for grassy eucalypt woodlands.

“The fire reduces the dead plant and weed material on the ground and promotes regeneration of native species.

“We aim to embed cultural practices into our natural resource management practices.”

DELWP natural environment programs officer Ammie Jackson said it was a privilege to be part of the planning team, and to witness the cultural burn.

“We are lucky that the Wadawurrung have retained the knowledge of their traditional practices and are working hard to revive and pass on those practices to their community,” she said.

“This has been an enlightening and educational experience for the government agencies involved.

“There is still much to learn about cultural burning, and we will continue to work with and support the Wadawurrung.”