Cross-cultural monitoring of a cultural keystone species informs revival of indigenous burning of country in south-eastern Australia

Michelle B. Mckemey, Maureen (Lesley) Patterson, Banbai Rangers, Emilie J. Ens, Nick C. H. Reid, John T. Hunter, Oliver Costello, Malcolm Ridges, Cara Miller

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    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Globally, Indigenous cultural burning has been practiced for millennia, although colonization limited Indigenous people’s ability to access and manage their ancestral lands. Recently, recognition of Indigenous fire management has been increasing, leading to the re-emergence of cultural burning in Australia, the Americas, parts of Asia and Africa. We describe how the Banbai people of south-eastern Australia have reintroduced cultural burning at Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area. Our team of Banbai Rangers and non-Indigenous scientists conducted cross-cultural research to investigate the impact of burning on a cultural keystone species, the Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). Our comparison of the effects of a low-intensity, patchy, cultural fire in the Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area to a nearby higher intensity fire in Warra National Park through a Before-After-Control-Impact assessment indicated that the higher intensity fire reduced echidna foraging activity, possibly to avoid predation. Most importantly, we describe a cross-cultural research model whereby Indigenous rangers and non-Indigenous scientists work together to inform adaptive natural and cultural resource management. Such trans-disciplinary and collaborative research strengthens informed conservation decision-making and the social-ecological resilience of communities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)893-904
    Number of pages12
    JournalHuman Ecology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


    • Indigenous knowledge
    • Traditional ecological knowledge
    • Indigenous fire management
    • Protected area management
    • Cultural keystone species
    • Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)
    • The Banbai Aboriginal Nation
    • South-eastern Australia


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