Northern Territory University, Darwin. Completed.
Commenced 1999. Submitted September 2003.
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This project investigated traditional and contemporary landscape
burning regimes in the north Kimberley region. It was based on the
remote community of Kalumburu and involved areas under claim by
Balanggarra and Wunumbal-Gaambera native titleholders.
The project included:
- a landscape-scale natural experiment comparing the floristic
structure and composition of woody vegetation in three major land
systems and in areas of contrasting fire histories;
- vegetation mapping exercise and documentation of current
burning patterns along access roads;
- collaboration with Aboriginal traditional experts in landscape
burning, involving documenting traditional and contemporary
knowledge and practice;
- experiments on the effects of fire on the structure and
flowering patterns of key native fruit tree species; and
- documenting the use of fire in the hunting of bustards, emus
Completing the fieldwork for the landscape-scale experiment was
a great challenge as it involved walking long distances alone
through rugged and isolated terrain. Trips made to remote locations
with Traditional Owners were 'eye-opening'
and rewarding experiences.
The project benefited greatly from the contributions of a number
of Traditional Owners from Kalumburu and Mitchell Plateau,
facilitated by an AIATSIS grant.
Over the last few years mining companies, state government
departments and other private companies have asserted greater
control over land in the north Kimberley. In some cases this has
resulted in conflicts of interests with Aboriginal people living in
the area. My research is becoming increasingly topical in the
context of land management and the role Traditional Owners will
play in the future as native title comes into effect.