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Indigenous rangers hail Top End fire forum a success

David Prestipino -

The annual Savanna Fire Management (SFM) Program Forum in the Northern Territory has been hailed a success by First Nations fire rangers, with the 2023 event the first time participants gathered in person.

The fire forum united more than 50 Indigenous fire rangers with scientific and business development experts, strengthening connections between rangers and project partners.

The event was hosted by the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, with First Nations fire rangers discussing ILSC-supported projects with fellow stakeholders, with the ranger groups representing five of the six emerging Indigenous carbon projects across the NT.

Other key topics discussed included linking traditional cultural knowledge with western science to deliver fire management over large areas, and the need to maintain necessary records for carbon credit claims.

The three-day forum on Wulna Land at the De Lego Resort also gave rangers a first look at the Northern Australia Fire Institute's tech-driven fire mapping service – an integral tool for them to see where fires are burning and areas already burnt, as well as historical fire data.

Based on the interpretation of satellite data, the tool allows rangers and fire managers to better visualise fires in landscape, resulting in a more targeted strategy to fire management.

Specialised training and fire mapping products from NAFI that assist with detailed fire risk assessment were also showcased.

Thamarrurr Development Cooperation fire manager, Torsten Unnasch, said the opportunity to gather for the first time as a group to discuss critical issues was exciting.

"It was pretty good to catch up with people in person, instead of over the telephone. We get much more input and a deeper knowledge of some topics," Mr Unnasch said.

Murnkurru Murnkurru Gurindji ranger Jerone Bernard said knowledge sharing among ranger groups and fire managers was a crucial element of the forum.

"It has been great to come and learn more about what we as rangers can do in different areas (across the Northern Territory)," Mr Bernard said.

ILSC chief operating officer Matthew Salmon said the forum achieved its purpose to foster knowledge sharing and stronger Indigenous voices across environment-related activities.

"It was great the forum was used as a platform to discuss important matters," he said, adding planning for the 2024 SFM Program Forum had already begun.

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