Cultural Burn Trial Completed in Denmark

Published on Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 2:15:52 PM

Pictured: Noongar Elder Carol Pettersen and Binalup ranger Shawn Colbung preside over the cultural burn trial in Denmark, May 2022.

An exciting step towards merging cultural burning practice with contemporary fire mitigation work was taken in Denmark this week with a trial burn held near the shores of Wilson Inlet.
Following a research process with seven Noongar families, local Noongar Elders, Binalup rangers and representatives from Shire of Denmark, Department of Fire and Emergency Services, University of Western Australia and local bushfire brigades, agreed to work together to conduct a trial cultural burn on Tuesday.
The area for the demonstration trial was only small, but the significance of the event was large as it represented a step towards further collaboration between traditional custodians and authorities as efforts continue to mitigate the risk of bushfire.
Denmark Shire President Ceinwen Gearon said she was proud the Shire of Denmark was setting this important precedent and hoped the collaborative effort would continue to grow.
“Our community has a deep respect for the Minang and Bibbulmun Noongar people who have cared for this land we call home for tens of thousands of years,” Cr Gearon said.
“We’re delighted to be working together, to witness that continuing tradition of caring for country and to do our part to reduce the risk of fire with the health of the environment as a top priority.”
“We hope to do more in the cultural burning space as part of our bushfire mitigation program and this trial was a key first step.”
Noongar Elder Carol Pettersen was designated as the Elder representative to ensure the incorporation of cultural knowledge for the trial burn and said Tuesday’s burn was a success.
“I see this as an opportunity for a two-way learning,” Ms Pettersen said. “Listening to the old cultural ways of doing things which were in practice for thousands of years and looking at how western science is used today.”
“This collaboration is a blessing and a relief.”
“It’s important to work together in this changing landscape.”
The intention is for the trial to set the precedent for future cultural burns in the Shire of Denmark, allowing authorities to reduce fuel loads while working closely with traditional custodians.

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