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Dorrobbee - Grassy Pathways Burn and Gathering

September 15th 2015

Just as Goori people and their ancestors have done for generations, they gathered to share knowledge and maintain connections to country alongside neighbouring clans. The Dorrobbee Grasslands remain a meeting place on ancient pathways that connect landscapes, places, people, plants and animals. 

During the gathering a cultural burn was applied to the Grasslands. It was collaboratively led by the Dorrobbee Grass Reserve Trust, Ngulingah Local Aboriginal Land Council(LALC), Firesticks, Dunoon Brigade (Rural Fire Service), NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the Northern Rivers Fire and Biodiversity Consortium (NRFABCON)  with the assistance of Githabul Working on Country rangers, Minyumai Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) rangers and other participants.

The event was part of the Grassy Pathways Project which is coordinated by NRFABCON with support and funding from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the Firesticks project. The Grassy Pathways Project aims to build recognition of grassy ecosystem values and the important role they play in maintaining healthy landscapes. The hope is to continue to develop projects that regenerate and maintain the grassy areas of the Northern Rivers through the application of cultural fire management practices.

The Dorrobbee Grasslands are located just north of Dunoon on the corner of Dunoon and Frasers Roads. The grasslands are culturally significant to Aboriginal people as they are a rare example of the grasslands that were dotted throughout the forest dominate landscapes. These grasslands require active management, as was done by Aboriginal people previous to European settlement. The Dorrobbee Grasslands encompass 30 acres of Aboriginal owned and community land managed by the Ngulingah LALC and the Dorrobbee GrassReserve Trust. These grasslands were burnt to maintain and enhance the health of the grassland habitat and values. The key treat is forest and weed species encroaching and dominating the open space.

The weather and conditions were perfect and the burn objectives were achieved. The objectives of the burn were to:

- apply burning with Aboriginal cultural leadership

- encourage regeneration of tnative Kangaroo grass and other grassland species

- reduce fuel loads and risk to neighbouring properties

- reduce weedy species that are invading the grasslands

Following the burn a discussion was held onsite to explore the scope and future of the Grassy Pathways project. Valuable input was contributed by rangers, land managers and other stakeholders regarding the next phases of the project.

We will be holding more activities to continue to develop projects to implement the grassy pathways concept. We value your ideas, knowledge and experience in how shared natural and cultural outcomes can be achieved through strategic and appropriate fire management across the landscape.

For more info on this or future activities please contact:

Oliver Costello

Firesticks Advisor

0422 223 478

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Grassy Pathway Project

Media Release 2nd February 2015

The Northern Rivers Fire and Biodiversity Consortium (NRFABCON) is pleased to announce that it has recently received funding from the Office of Environment and Heritage to work with researchers, ecologists and indigenous partners on scoping a project to investigate linkages between historical cultural burning practices of grassy pathways/islands and the ecological requirements of grassy island specialist threatened species. Tara Patel NRFABCON coordinator said “This project will involve research, the use of fire and will have significant cultural as well as positive biodiversity outcomes for endangered species such as the Eastern Bristlebird and Hastings River Mouse”.

The NRFABCON is a network of land managers and other community, indigenous and industry stakeholders delivering a coordinated, landscape scale approach to appropriate fire management for the maintenance and improvement of biodiversity outcomes across the region. It was established as a key action of the Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan in regard to addressing the landscape scale threat of inappropriate fire regimes on the regions biodiversity (DECCW NSW 2010).

The NRFABCON covers seven local government areas in northern NSW encompassing an area of approximately 21,000km2,from the Queensland Border to just south of Wooli and inland to the Tablelands.

While many of the regions species and vegetation communities have developed ways of coping, adapting and thriving with fire, the inappropriate use or occurrence of fire has been identified as a major threat to the biodiversity of the region (DECCW 2010).

Inappropriate fire can be too frequent, too hot or not frequent enough and in the Northern Rivers inappropriate fire has been identified as contributing to the loss of some habitats and its associated species.

Tara said “Well planned and managed Ecological burns may also be useful to address weed infestation and promote the regeneration of native vegetation and improve the habitat for native animals including some threatened species”. For more information about this and other ecological fire management projects in the Northern Rivers go to www.nrfabcon.org.au/Projects/ .


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