Human management

Australia helps African countries revitalize indigenous skills in bushfire management

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As a result, both landscapes suffered catastrophic and uncontrollable forest fires.

These fires put lives and landscapes at risk but also had devastating consequences on carbon emissions.

Since the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, Australian scientists and the First Nations people of Northern Australia have worked to restore ancient traditions and techniques to Northern Australia to great effect.

They introduced a market-based system in which large corporations, governments, and possibly taxpayers could pay communities to clean up to offset their own carbon emissions.

And now the Australian government is funding them to work with communities in Botswana to help them do the same.

African savannas are the most fire-prone environments on earth with huge impacts on global greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s really about encouraging postcolonial governments in this part of the world to recognize this original traditional knowledge, support it and see how they can reduce emissions by doing so in a commercially incentivized way,” Jeremy Russell of Charles Darwin University. Smith told AAP at a conference in Zambia.

Indigenous farmers share traditional knowledge to help regenerate Australia


“If you look at southern Africa – the people of the sands, the earliest inhabitants of the Bushmans – this is exactly the style of fire management they have undertaken for hundreds of thousands of years,” he said. Explain.

“It wasn’t until the late 1990s that we suddenly woke up and recognized that black guys had the right idea after all on how to deal with these landscapes.”

While it would have been better if these techniques had never been abandoned, Russell-Smith says the stars aligned to take them back to a time when modern technologies were developed to support them, such as drones. , satellites and “flash accounting methods”.

As has happened in Australia, these projects are starting at the community level, but Russell-Smith says it is only a matter of time before the governments of Botswana and Zambia are fully engaged.

“It is in defiance of government policy. But it works,” Dr. Russell-Smith said.

“Similar to northern Australia – local communities and projects are going to wag their tails, and overall in a few years we will see that all of Botswana’s fire suppression policy has faded away.”

It’s really a win-win for everyone, he says.

“There are no negatives. It’s a remarkable and straightforward approach to a big problem.”