Environmentalists at the Maldon Railway meeting expressed interest in Indigenous approaches to fire in the landscape, and a possible briefing by Indigenous fire officers was canvassed.
This is from the Joint Management Plan for Dja Dja Wurrung parks (2018):
‘For Dja Dja Wurrung People, Wi is a practice with some equivalent aspects to contemporary fire management undertaken by Parks Victoria, DELWP and other agencies. Wi
helps deliver a disturbance regime that supports or hinders particular plant species and manipulates animal distributions. Among other impacts, Wi can open the forest floor to light, release the seedbank to support greater biodiversity, help convert old wood into available nutrients and stimulate the cycle of birth, death and re-birth. However, Wi is far more than an environmental management tool—it is an expression of cultural obligation, of Dja Dja Wurrung People’s connections to land, each other, and Creation time. Fire regimes that lack DDW involvement threaten cultural obligations, aspirations and knowledge systems, as well as the healing of the landscape. Wi is as much about who applies Wi as how Wi is applied.
‘Since colonisation the application of Wi has dramatically changed. Consistent intensity and timing of Wi is lacking in the landscape, and intense wildfires occur periodically, with
ongoing damage to cultural and natural heritage. Planned burning is largely centred on fuel reduction—the cultural outcomes, impacts on DDW food and fibre plants and
animals, cultural connections and obligations have been little considered. While controlled burning is beginning to integrate DDW cultural practices, fire regimes continue to damage
Country. Cultural heritage in the Parks can also be damaged by the use of fire retardants, mineral earth fire breaks, control lines and in some cases the intensity of controlled burns.
Finally, ongoing climate change will affect how fire behaves in DDW Country and how it can be used as a management tool.’ (page 33)
According to the Joint Fuel Management Plan, Dja Dja Wurrung rangers are set to conduct 17 burns in 2022-3, 30 in 2023-4 and 13 in 2024-5.