Forest fire prevention through empowering indigenous communities

Firesticks, Dharrawal-Yuin Ngurra, the Good Fire video showcase
Published: 29 November 2021
Last edited: 29 November 2021
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The Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation is an indigenous-led organisation that re-introduced cultural burning to increase the resilience of fire-prone landscapes in Australia. Australia's expanding urban areas and cities are vulnerable to impacts of bushfires such as fire damage, smoke hazards, and biodiversity loss. The Firestick Alliance empowers Aboriginal communities in fire management and teaches vulnerable communities to protect themselves and their living environment. Ancient burning techniques are introduced to reduce hazardous fires, such as burning small forest patches with low intensity early in the fire season. They also developed the "Yugul Mangi Fire and Seasons Calendar" in collaboration with scientists, Indigenous Elders, and rangers. The calendar presents biocultural indicators that guide fire management, planning, and transfer of indigenous knowledge.


Scale of implementation
Area-wide development
Desert ecosystems
Forest ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Hot desert
Temperate deciduous forest
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Tropical deciduous forest
Tropical grassland, savanna, shrubland
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Disaster risk reduction
Fire management
Forest Management
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Indigenous people
Local actors
Species management
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Risk communication, community engagement and behaviour change
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Resilience and disaster risk management
Extreme heat
Increasing temperatures
Loss of Biodiversity
Ecosystem loss
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 3: Incentives reformed
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 4: Reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030




The alliance empowers and enables Aboriginal and local communities to build healthy, functional, and fire-resilient landscapes. The communities bring valuable knowledge but play an active role in decision-making and capacity building.


The Firesticks Alliance facilitates training and scientific monitoring to establish a greater understanding of cultural burning for improved ecosystems and safety management. It provides recognition for traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). Additionally, specific workshops are organised to harness women's expertise and engage youth.


Implementing cultural burning enhances ecosystem and community health by improving habitat conditions, connectivity and reducing fire hazards. It allows for moving away from conventional 'hazard reduction burning' to burning that involves knowledge on biodiversity (e.g., considering what species are flowering, fruiting, or shedding leaves) to decide where and when to burn. The alliance also supports communities affected by fire hazards and trains them to be more resilient for future fire risks.


Lastly, through the involvement of the Firesticks Alliance in governmental agencies, fire authorities, and landowners, indigenous communities have been given a voice in the ongoing discussion on hazard reduction and nature conservation.

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Eline van Remortel Earthwatch Europe