Tais Muckan, an Umdumbi family elder of Kabi Kabi nation, with his sons Lawrence Muckan and Lee-Samuel and, of Noosa Landcare. The trio show Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien how traditional land management practices could be used in bushfire preparations. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Tais Muckan, an Umdumbi family elder of Kabi Kabi nation, with his sons Lawrence Muckan and Lee-Samuel and, of Noosa Landcare. The trio show Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien how traditional land management practices could be used in bushfire preparations. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

‘Unlock the land’: Call to bring back cultural burns

INDIGENOUS elder Tais Muckan has called on the government to bring back cultural burns to "train" wildlife to survive catastrophic bushfires, protect people and the environment.

The Kabi Kabi man and his sons Lee-Samuel and Lawrence, of Noosa and District Landcare, discovered fuel such as oily eucalyptus leaves and tree branches had already begun build up in burnt-out Peregian bushland bordering Doonan Bridge Rd.

Here, the trio met with Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien to explain how the 65,000-year-old practice of cultural or "cool" burns could become a vital part of current bushfire management.

Tais Muckan meets with Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien to discuss how traditional land management practices could be used in bushfire preparations. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Tais Muckan meets with Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien to discuss how traditional land management practices could be used in bushfire preparations. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

The plan involve small-scale burns in particular months and in the right places to minimise the risk of bushfires in drier times, and improve the health and regeneration of particular plants and animals.

Mr Muckan said a firebreak at the Peregian site proved "useless" when a blaze ravaged the areas last year, but now was a time to "come together" and start learning from the "traditional way".

"I don't care if you're black, white or galvanised, fire and death does not prejudice anybody," Mr Muckan said.

Mr Muckan explained cool burns taught animals how to behave when they started to smell smoke.

"(And) seeing the seasons starting the change, then they know that the First Nation people are going to come through to do those burns," Mr Muckan said.

Tais Muckan wants to pass on his knowledge of traditional land management practices to more effectively protect people, the environment and animals from catastrophic bushfires. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Tais Muckan wants to pass on his knowledge of traditional land management practices to more effectively protect people, the environment and animals from catastrophic bushfires. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

The Umdumbi family elder welcomed today's meeting with Mr O'Brien, who leads a Parliamentary inquiry into the intensity and frequency of bushfires.

As part of a "summer road trip", Mr O'Brien has met with residents affected by last year's Peregian fires, spoken to people involved in evacuation centres and emergency relief stations, Wildlife Volunteers Association, rural firefighters and the Salvation Army.

Mr O'Brien said the inquiry would particularly look at issues of land management, and First Nations people would be an "integral part of that".

"Before we head back to Canberra, before we throw on our suits and sit around tables, it's important that we get out and learn from those people who know far more than we do, quite frankly" he said.

"And as a people who knows better, they are the first."

Mr Muckan said he would like to run an Ambassadors Program on a property to continue to pass on his knowledge, but said it would require land to be "unlocked".

"Give it back to us, then we will teach you about fires, we'll teach you about living in this environment," he said.

 

Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien has been on a “summer road trip”, meeting with bushfire experts and those who have been impacted by Australia’s bushfire crisis. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien has been on a “summer road trip”, meeting with bushfire experts and those who have been impacted by Australia’s bushfire crisis. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

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