Feature Length Live Virtual Presentation 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2021

Sharing knowledge and building capacity - Monitoring the impact of 2020 bushfires on Gunaikurnai Country. (#25)

Patrick Maiden 1 , Paula Harrison 2
  1. GHD, Traralgon, VIC, Australia
  2. Bushfire Recovery crew (On Country team), GLaWAC (Gunaikurnai Land and Water Aboriginal Corp.), Kalimna West, Vic, Australia

Gunaikurnai sought to understand the impacts of devastating bushfires on the biodiversity that have significance for their culture and people. Most ecological monitoring being undertaken post fires focused on Government departmental perspective of biodiversity conservation and legislated threatened species. GLaWAC have strong record of managing landscapes and working On Country to support mainstream land uses (e.g. National Parks), but relatively new to monitoring and managing for cultural values.

GLaWAC fire recovery crew worked with ecologists from GHD to develop and implement a bushfire recovery monitoring program. The team overcame skills gaps in monitoring techniques, limited awareness and appreciation of ecosystems and species, and shifting from working in land management to biodiversity data collection. 

We learned that spending time on Country is fundamental to valuing the species and ecosystems. The stories and memories from visiting different parts of the burnt landscape helped create a natural history knowledge and literacy that can then be recorded using scientific techniques. The level of sophistication of the monitoring program needs to match the technical skills, the cultural importance and personal motivations of the people using the data.

The field crews of today will be the On Country managers of the future, and managing Country through both wildfire and planned burns will be a critical requirement for GLaWAC and other Traditional Owner groups. Longer term goals of capacity building are founded on supporting an appreciation for the ecosystems and species, and enabling GLaWAC to decide how and when they manage Country to maintain these values.


Download Full Paper