In the News
Media coverage of our work
ABC Gardening Australia
25 Jun 2021
At Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area, the Banbai rangers have been working with ecologist Dr Michelle Mckemey, to measure the impacts of cultural burning practices. In 2009 the Banbai started work to repair their Country. Lesley, “you could tell it was sick, it needed to be managed”. Banbai re-introduced cultural burning in 2014, with Michelle helping to monitor outcomes.
Michelle – “Of course cultural burning is nothing new, it has been practiced for 50,000 years. But in so many cases people were prohibited from managing country. Aboriginal people have asked for help from scientists, but not because they need their knowledge validated, they have 1000’s of years of ecology. But they need to demonstrate to funding bodies and fire managers that it can have benefit. We have been looking at how indigenous and western knowledge systems can work together to monitor ecological outcomes”. Read more...
Leveraging Cross-Cultural Science to Support Indigenous Cultural Fire Management
2 July, 2021
To control wildfires, effort involving modern scientific knowledge and traditional ecological wisdom is essential, as was found in this study by ecologists and Banbai Aboriginal rangers in Australia. Read the full article on Wiley Online Library: https://doi.org/10.1111/aec.13034
Natural Resources Commission: Aboriginal cultural values and renewal assessment in NSW forests post-wildfires – Banbai Case Study
January 23, 2023
The Banbai Rangers are leading NRC-funded Aboriginal values assessments on the Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area and other tenures in northern NSW after the 2019/20 wildfires, with Melaleuca Environmental subcontracted to undertake project coordination and specialist services.
Print and online media
Mike Cherney, Wall Street Journal
February 16, 2023
SYDNEY—When Tremane Patterson sets fire to the countryside, the 34-year-old walks alongside the flames, using leaves and branches to put out embers and make sure the fire stays along his desired path. Mr. Patterson, from the Banbai nation, is one of many indigenous Australians seeking to reintroduce cultural burning, a practice that was widespread for thousands of years but was disrupted after Europeans colonized the continent ... Read more
14 January, 2020
Australia has always had bushfires, the result of being the driest inhabited continent on earth combined with high temperatures. Its indigenous people, who predate European colonization by some 40,000 years, learned to manage and mitigate fire risk through specific knowledge of local ecosystems and carefully controlled burnings. As Australia suffers through drought, heatwaves and devastating bushfires this summer, practitioners of indigenous fire management report greater interest in their work than ever before. Read more...
Clare Watson, Australian Geographic, 159
November - December 2020
The devastation wrought by the Black Summer fires was raw and immense, especially for Aboriginal people who watched country and kin burn as never before with the deep-seated knowledge that if they’d been able to maintain cultural fire practices, developed during millennia before the arrival of Europeans, those fires would never have occurred in the way they did. This country has changed, and extreme fires fanned by climate change are a new force shaping Australian ecosystems. Aboriginal fire practitioners know there is another way, and seasoned firefighters are beginning to heed their call. They say that if cultural land management
practices were widely reapplied, many parts of the country could be healed, even protected from future fires, with the resilience of healthy landscapes restored and the strength in communities renewed. But first, an ancient fire knowledge needs to be resurrected. Read more...
Jo Khan, ABC Science
27 Nov 2019
Tribal elder and Yugul Mangi Ranger Winston Thompson knows that when the dragonflies come, so too will the cold. He knows that when the grass turns brown, the dikdik — Leichardt's grasshoppers — are on their way. And in April, after the rains have stopped, burning can begin again.
"Indigenous people around the world use the phrase: 'You look after Mother Nature, and Mother Nature will look after you'," Mr Thompson said. "It means to look after the country, and the country will provide you with bushfood, air that we breathe, water that we drink, and using traditional way of not over-collecting the plants and animals that we use as food source."
Mr Thomson and the Yugul Mangi Rangers of southeast Arnhem Land carry an ancient oral tradition of looking after country, but now they're joining forces with non-Indigenous scientists to put their knowledge down in ink. They've recently produced a calendar detailing their profound knowledge of the seasons, and when and how to burn to best manage the land and avoid wildfires. Read more...
Amber McFarlane, New England Focus Magazine
March 1, 2019
Meet our cover stars! Michelle McKemey, Cindy McRae and Tina Skipper are all hardworking, enterprising New Englanders, with a diverse array of skills and business interests between them.. They’re all also equally passionate about the land and our natural environment. Read more…
University of New England Connect
27 September 2021
A rare study of Aboriginal cultural burning in southern Australia has found the practice as effective at fuel reduction as conventional hazard reduction burns, while being much less harmful to native plants than bushfire. Read more.
Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
13 July, 2021
This video is a summary of the findings from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC’s Hazards, culture and Indigenous communities research project team. This project, led by Jess Weir (Western Sydney University) and Timothy Neale (Deakin University), engaged the emergency management sector and Indigenous communities across southern Australia to understand which cultural fire priorities are shared between these groups, and how the sector can more effectively empower and support Indigenous cultural fire and land management. Michelle McKemey worked as a Research Fellow on the project.