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Fire Management

For many thousands of years Aboriginal people have used fire in a very sophisticated way to manage their land and to ensure adequate production of food resources. This involved a level of complex land management that required the careful and strategic use of burning. One such example, is bush honey and the species of native bees that produce it. To produce bush honey the native bees require flowers, but if fires burn too hot, the trees and bushes are scorched, and will produce no flowers in that year as all their growth energy goes into producing new leaves rather than flowers and fruit. Aboriginal people burnt areas very carefully to make sure the ecological processes relating to food were maintained. This meant differing the intensity and times of burning of fires to achieve the desired outcomes. Some areas would be burned regularly, whilst other areas would be managed to keep fire away from certain places, such as monsoon forest patches, where fruit would be available later in the season. The results were a patchwork of areas at different stages of growth providing resources for people and wildlife.

 

The traditional owners behind Kakadu Billabong Safari Camp aim to rebuild cultural practices on their country to better manage the landscape and wildlife. The Red-eyed Partridge Pigeon (Geophaps smithii smithii) is one such wildlife species that needs good fire management to flourish. This pigeon is a ground-nesting species that nests in the early dry season. Fires are a significant risk to their nests, and poor fire management are one of the contributing factors that has led to this species now being classified as vulnerable. Despite their IUCN listing, and in direct result of good fire management, Partridge Pigeons are common in the area around Kakadu Billabong Safari Camp, on the land of the traditional owners.