Young schol­ar­ship win­ners head to Queens­land fire work­shop

Mansfield Courier - - OPINIONS/PEOPLE -

TRA­DI­TIONAL burn­ing meth­ods were fea­tured at the re­cent Na­tional In­dige­nous Fire Work­shop at Mel­sonby in far north Queens­land.

Th­ese work­shops are at­tract­ing wide­spread i nter­est t hrough­out Aus­tralia.

The Moun­tain Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion of Vic­to­ria (MCAV) sup­ported the work­shop by award­ing schol­ar­ships to Meg Cole­man from Hey­field and Bryce Lovick from Merrijig to at­tend.

The MCAV be­lieve t hat t he younger gen­er­a­tion need to ob­serve and learn the tra­di­tional burn­ing meth­ods, so they can con­tinue the tra­di­tions learned by early cat­tle­men.

The work­shop was also at­tended by t wo se­nior fig­ures from t he MCAV: Ge­off Bur­rowes from Merrijig and Chris Com­mins from En­say.

The prin­ci­ple pre­sen­ter was Aus­tralia’s lead­ing In­dige­nous fire prac­ti­tioner from north Queens­land, Vic­tor St­ef­fensen.

Two years ago, con­tact was made with Vic­tor by the MCAV fol­low­ing an SBS In­sight pro­gram ti­tled In the Line of Fire.

In that pro­gram Vic­tor pro­moted the need for the re­turn to tra­di­tional burn­ing meth­ods, a prac­tice still largely used in north­ern Aus­tralia.

Pres­i­dent of the MCAV Graeme Stoney said this week that the moun­tain cat­tle­men sup­port the emerg­ing tra­di­tional burn­ing move­ment in south eastern Aus­tralia be­cause early cat­tle­men burnt their runs by fol­low­ing the ex­am­ple and meth­ods of the Abo­rig­ines.

He ex­plained that the cool burn­ing of the cat­tle­men’s runs was stopped by the au­thor­i­ties due to pres­sure from mis­guided en­vi­ron­men­tal groups.

Mr Stoney said that the cat­tle­men have pointed out for many years that the bush is choked with un­der­growth, has high fuel loads and is not be­ing man­aged prop­erly by the au­thor­i­ties.

“The burn­ing tech­niques prac­tised by the Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple and copied by the early cat­tle­men kept the bush open, en­sured that the big trees dom­i­nated, en­cour­aged grass and the un­de­sir­able un­der­growth was su­pressed by low in­ten­sity fire,” Mr Stoney said.

“This pro­vided a healthy, safe en­vi­ron­ment for flora, fauna and peo­ple.

“The MCAV has been puz­zled and dis­ap­pointed for many years as to why en­vi­ron­men­tal groups claim­ing to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment did not sup­port this ba­sic tech­nique based on cool fire, which suits the man­age­ment of t he Aus­tralian bush.

“For years th­ese groups have dis- missed tra­di­tional burn­ing meth­ods, be it Abo­rig­i­nal or Euro­pean and they have much to an­swer for.

“Thou­sands of years of fire­stick man­age­ment can­not any longer be ig­nored or dis­missed,” Mr Stoney con­cluded.

The Queens­land work­shop was at­tended by peo­ple from all over Aus­tralia and the two schol­ar­ship win­ners say it was an ex­pe­ri­ence like no other.

ON FIRE: Moun­tain Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion of Vic­to­ria (MCAV) schol­ar­ship win­ners Meg Cole­man and Bryce Lovick be­ing in­ter­viewed in Queens­land at the re­cent Na­tional In­dige­nous Fire Work­shop.

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