Wednesday, 07 July 2021
Charles Darwin University
Arnhem Land Traditional Owner, Elder, and Senior Ranger Otto Campion
Arnhem Land Traditional Owner, Elder, and Senior Ranger Otto Campion

Innovative bush fire research featured on national TV

A unique collaboration between Charles Darwin University’s (CDU’s) bushfire researchers and Aboriginal rangers in Kakadu was recently showcased on Channel 10.

An episode of the TV program, entitled Advancing Australia, highlighted CDU’s research into tackling climate change, caring for country and improving livelihoods.

At the Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods, Darwin Centre for Bushfire Research (DCRB), fire ecology researchers Professor Russell-Smith and Dr Andrew Edwards are among those who have long collaborated with Aboriginal Rangers, CSIRO and governments regarding fire management.

“Using knowledge passed down from Aboriginal people and modern scientific methods, the collaboration has developed some of the best fire management techniques in the world,” Professor Jeremy Russel-Smith said.

“By modelling and trialling different fire management practices, we found that burning earlier in the season—a practice we call Savanna Burning Methodology—could reduce larger, more dangerous fires later in the year.”

Featured in the TV program is Arnhem Land Traditional Owner, Elder, and Senior Ranger Otto Campion, who received an honorary doctorate of letters from CDU for his contributions to work in the area of fire management. He said he hopes to see more Aboriginal people leading, planning, working and communicating.

“We want to see how we can balance the two knowledge systems. Indigenous and non-Indigenous people should be working together to make better fire management,” Dr Campion said.

Also featured in the program is DCRB researcher and ecological economist Dr Kamaljit Sangha, who collaborated with Mr Campion. Her research highlights the holistic value of people managing fire on country while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Indigenous fire management needs to be done by the right people, on the right country, at the right time,” Dr Sangha said.

The methodology is approved by the Emission Reduction Fund, a Federal Government scheme that rewards land managers for helping tackle climate change. Aboriginal Rangers can earn carbon credits for every tonne of emissions that are prevented.

These credits can be purchased by government or private companies to offset their emissions, providing a livelihood for Aboriginal Rangers caring for country. The carbon economy across Northern Australia is worth over $30 million per year.

Find out more on the DCRB website or watch the Advancing Australia episode on channel 10 Play.