Cool burnings at Tumut wetlands

Riverina Highlands RFS, Brungle/Tumut Local Aboriginal Land Council and Riverina Local Land Services conducting a cultural burn at the Tumut wetlands this week.

Riverina Highlands RFS, Brungle/Tumut Local Aboriginal Land Council and Riverina Local Land Services completed another cultural burn this week, this time at the Tumut wetlands.

While it may sound like a contradiction in terms, a cool burn or cultural burn actually consists of small blazes are set alight to clear the underbrush. The process generates patchy habitats preferred by small animals and prevents lightning and wildfires from consuming the land.

The aims of this week’s burn are also to remove introduced plant species or native species that don’t belong in the areas, and to keep Tumut safer.

It is the second of these burns in the area in recent weeks the first having been conducted in the Tumut Ecology Reserve, and the crews were on scene on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Riverina Local Land Services Senior Land Services Officer Cherie White said the wetlands, located near to the Gocup Road-Snowy Mountains Highway intersection, had been subject to a lot of restoration work.

“However, the understory was still quite exotic, and there hasn’t been any grazing work on it.

The wetlands used to be a town common, until 15 years ago when rehabilitation work turned it into a wetland area, with a lot of planting of reintroduced native trees and shrubs.

“Despite this, the understory remained quite exotic, with introduced grasses,” Ms White said.

“This cool or cultural burn aims to open up the understory to encourage native forbs and herbs to regenerate them, as smoke from the fire helps seeds to germinate.”

The burn was led by Dean Freeman, fire practitioner and Wiradjuri man, and provides an opportunity for traditional owners to work on country, and helps share local knowledge and practices.

“First Nations people have been managing Riverina lands and waters for thousands of years,” Ms White said.

“A large part of this management was burning. Fire management gave the base for healthy land that supported people, plants and animals.”

This is expected to be the last such burn in the area for some time due to increasing rainfall.   

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