Wagiman Rangers – a “burning ambition” to improve management of the Wagiman & Upper Daly Aboriginal Land Trusts

Date: Jan 20, 2023

Publication Type: Blog

Subject: Newspaper

Since 2021, the Northern Land Council’s Wagiman Rangers have been working closer with their communities, neighbouring Ranger groups, local non-Aboriginal land managers and land-owners and external consultants and scientists to establish a sustainable fire and land management regime throughout their traditional lands.

Like many Aboriginal land managers across the Top End of the NT the Wagiman Rangers take responsibility and care not just for land that may be within an Aboriginal land Trust established under the Land Rights Act or that may be subject to a Native Title determination—but all land within their traditional country.

In 2020 the Wagiman rangers and communities started work on the Wagiman/Upper Daly Savanna Fire/Carbon Project. There have been many delays—particularly by the COVID-19 pandemic—that has slowed progress but the Wagiman are determined and look forward to finalisation of this project in the coming months.

A Wagiman Ranger undertaking land management through controlled burning.

The motivation for the project came from a desire from the community to change the destructive pattern of wildfires that have torn across the land trusts and neighbouring land in recent years, changing them from frequent late dry season hot fires, to earlier cooler and patcher burns.

Similar projects exist in Arnhem Land through the Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (ALFA) project, and closer with projects that the Thamarrurr and Jawoyn Rangers had developed. It is hoped that eventually an ALFA-type program will be established in the Darwin Daly region.

Smoke rises from a controlled burn.

Another important factor has been to continue to build bridges with pastoral leases to enhance effective fire management—a sore point in the past as non-communicating neighbours have tended to point the finger over the fence when late dry season wildfires rage across the landscape.

The Wagiman community, that represent traditional owners on the Wagiman and Upper Daly Aboriginal Land Trusts, are keen to participate in initiatives that will promote the employment of young Aboriginal people and create opportunities for self-sustainability and long-term self-governance so that Wagiman people can get back onto and look after their country. The Wagiman community realised that improved fire management could lead to the empowerment of the groups and the communities that they represent. Wagiman Rangers are proud to be part of this movement.