The dynamic nature of ecosystems means that each landscape is unique, complex and constantly evolving. Communities are best placed to understand how to manage local landscapes but require support to build knowledge and skills.
An independent inquiry following the 2019–2020 fires demonstrated the need to educate the community and organisations about their roles and responsibilities in managing vegetation to reduce hazards on public and private land.
Valuing Indigenous knowledge, including a deep understanding and connection to the land, will promote better outcomes and strengthen the ties between our natural, social, economic and built environments.
Implementing locally adapted land management practices which recognise both fuel load management and ecosystem needs builds sustainable landscapes. There is an opportunity to empower people, communities, industries, and government to practice consistent and coordinated land management by providing education, skill building and job creation.
Cultural and prescribed burns could significantly reduce hazard levels. Currently, more than 70 per cent of Indigenous land management projects take place in the Northern Territory, Queensland or Western Australia. We can empower Indigenous communities to apply their knowledge locally, particularly in southern states where hazard levels are expected to significantly increase in the coming decade.
The benefits of improved land management through controlled burns, including cultural and prescribed burns, could be significant – preliminary analysis indicates that implementing controlled burns across Australia every year could reduce hazard levels by as much as 10 per cent on average and up to 18 per cent in south east Australia in the coming decade.
Land management will reduce risk and make landscapes more sustainable.
In the long term we will create a measurable reduction in the proportion of landscape in the high risk category, reduce fuel loads, increase water availability and quality, create jobs for local communities and reduce carbon emissions.