How can fire help us create healthy Country? And what kind of fire? Used when, how and by whom?
Our second Talking Fire event in November 2018 focused on Djandak Wi – the term used by Djaara – Dja Dja Wurrung people, the Traditional Owners for our part of Central Victoria – for the process of returning cultural fire to Country.
Now Talking Fire is partnering with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation to create opportunities for our community to deepen and transform our understanding of how to care for our local landscape. Djaara knowledge and experience will be shared through a practical experience of using fire as a way of caring for Country.
Together we want to enhance biodiversity, build community awareness and confidence in the use of fire, support new land holder skills, address community safety, and support Djaara in increasing their capacity to apply Djandak Wi to public and private land. A big agenda!
The project will be structured around three on-Country workshops to be held from May through to July (or later depending on the season). Each event will be a pre-booked COVID Safe event. The area proposed is the southern section of the Bruce’s Track planned burn in the Muckleford Forest.
Community Workshops postponed to Autumn-Winter 2022
Bookings for our three workshops are now open, but because of COVID restrictions on numbers we have had to postpone – and that now means to autumn-winter 2022. You can still book and we will update you when the first workshop date is set: and if you can’t come, we will refund your ticket.
The location for the three workshops will be on Country – within the area proposed for Djandak Wi in the Muckleford Forest. There will also be a community event in the Community Centre in Newstead in following the three workshops.
- Workshop 1 – Understanding the need to burn. Looking at the land from Djaara and western ecological perspectives. What are the values here, and what are the concerns? Held on-Country. NEW DATE: Saturday 28 May, 10am to 3pm or 4pm. Location will be confirmed after booking.
- Workshop 2 – Right way fire: Undertaking one or a series of small cultural burns. The timing will be determined by the conditions. Likely April-May 2022 date to be confirmed based on conditions.
- Workshop 3 – Learning through yarning: Afterwards a chance to learn, share experiences and outcomes, and setting up for monitoring – held on-Country. Likely May-June 2022 – date to be confirmed.
If you want to attend Workshop 2 – the actual cultural burn, you must attend Workshop 1 and complete Basic Wildfire Awareness, a short online training course (it takes around 3-4 hours) or in-person training – see below. When you book for these workshops, you will be asked whether you want to attend online or in-person training, and then you will be contacted with details of how to register.
Numbers are limited for Workshops 1 & 2, so please only book if you can commit to attending.
Click here to book: ticket price $10 (inc booking fee).
The Basic Wildfire Awareness training is designed to teach staff and contractors a basic awareness of fire behaviour, fire suppression techniques, safety and survival during wildfire and planned burn operations. Online training is done in your own time. There may be spaces available in a 1-day face-to-face training option in Bendigo on either 18 or 19 August, 2021.
Vegetation & Bird Surveys
Having postponed the workshops in September 2021 – with the challenges posed by COVID and the season – we’ve taken the time to set up vegetation and bird survey transects – details below.
Establishing a vegetation baseline
Karl Just, project ecologist, has established 20 vegetation transects, each 50 metres long and grouped in pairs at 10 separate sites. All run north-south. Along each transect, Karl has established 10 one metre square quadrats. In each quadrat Karl has recorded all vascular plant species and ground cover estimates including bryophytes/lichen, bare ground, rock, litter and course woody debris. Listen to Karl explaining the approach in this short video.
His aim is to create baseline vegetation sampling prior to the proposed cultural burn – djandak wi – that will be undertaken by Dja Dja Wurrung across an area of approx. 21 hectares to the east of the Newstead-Maldon Road.
As well as the 16 transects in the djandak wi area, two additional monitoring sites (4 transects) have been established within the adjoining area burnt by DELWP in autumn 2021.
Karl describes the area as open forest dominated by relatively young growing trees: Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa), Red Box (Eucalyptus polyanthemos), Silver Bundy (Eucalyptus nortonii) and Yellow Gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon), with understorey shrubs varying from sparse to locally dense patches, with the most prominent species including Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha), Sifton Bush (Cassinia sifton) and Cherry Ballart (Exocarpos cupressiformis).
Overall the higher slopes and ridges support a higher diversity and cover of ground-layer species, with large areas of the lower flats supporting few ground-layer plants and extensive bare ground, bryophytes and litter. Overall he has recorded 95 vascular plant species were recorded across the djandak wi area, including 77 species in the transects and 18 species recorded incidentally outside the transects. Of these 79 are indigenous and 16 are introduced (but overall weed cover is low).
The most diverse areas on the higher ground contain a rich suite a of small shrubs, grasses, lilies, orchids and forbs including Gorse Bitter-pea (Daviesia ulicifolia), Slender Rice-flower (Pimelea linifolia) Red-anther Wallaby-grass (Rytidosperma pallidum), Twining Fringe-lily (Thysanotus patersonii), Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium strictum), Autumn Greenhood (Pterostylis ampliata), Hood Orchid (Caladenia fuscata) Blue Fairy (Cyanicula caerulea), Rayless Daisy (Brachyscome perpusilla) and Murnong (Microseris walteri).
Thirty-five of the plant species recorded across the burn area have been identified as cultural plants, having documented uses for food, fibre or tool making. Others may be important medicinally or for other cultural reasons.
Bird survey transects
The Muckleford Forest Friends Group (MFFG) has a number of bird survey transects across the Muckleford Forest., each designed to build a more complete record of the bird species found here. Surveys are done quarterly and the results are added to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas – the primary information source used by DELWP when it considers management actions, including planned burns.
Two new transects were set up by Geoff Nevill and Deb Shaw in September 2021 and are now being surveyed quarterly. The method used is the Birdlife 20 minute, 2 hectare survey.
As well, MMFG, with the support of DELWP and assistance of Geoff Park, reviewed a decade or so of bird records from Geoff’s Natural Newstead blog and have added these to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.
The project includes a three years of post-burn monitoring, and we are keen to recruit volunteers with local plant knowledge to the monitoring team.
To get updates, follow the Talking Fire website (talkingfire.org), Talking Fire on Facebook.
Supported by the Wettenhall Environment Trust as a pilot in their Burning Country initiative