Indigenous eco-cultural futures: Re-implementing Nyangumarta burning in the Pilbara, Australia

Nicholas Smith & Steve Leonard (fire ecologist)

This project explores the cultural and ecological dimensions of re-implementing anthropogenic burning in the recently declared Nyangumarta Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) in northwestern Australia. IPAs comprise almost 40 per cent of the national conservation estate and are increasingly seen as a means for Indigenous Australians to achieve, cultural, political, economic, social and ecological outcomes. 

'Traditional' Indigenous burning is often a key component of IPA management strategies. However, given the extensive ecological and social change that has occurred in the Pilbara, how might Nyangumarta best utilise burning to conserve biodiversity, enhance cultural heritage values and enhance local livelihoods? How can we as academic researchers overcome the institutional and epistemological barriers to the recognition and incorporation of Nyangumarta people's knowledge of fire? 

This project will develop relationships between researchers and Nyangumarta people as co-producers of knowledge about fire in order to illuminate the political/cultural ecology of Indigenous engagement in the national conservation estate.


For further information about this project, please contact:

Dr Nicholas Xavier Smith

T: +61 3 9479 1445