The World’s Best Fire Management System is in Northern Australia, and it’s Led by Indigenous Land Managers

The tropical savannas of northern Australia are among the most fire-prone regions in the world. On average, they account for 70% of the area affected by fire each year in Australia.

But effective fire management over the past 20 years has reduced the annual average area burned – an area larger than Tasmania. The extent of this achievement is staggering, almost incomprehensible in a southern Australia context after the summer’s devastating bushfires.

Too Much Combustion, Too Little Fire

The fire – which we have used in our homes for over 400,000 years – remains the most versatile and sustainable household technology that humanity has ever known. The fire alone provided what we now get through a combination of modern appliances such as the oven and cooking hob, heating system, lights, refrigerator, freezer, hot water boiler, tumble dryer, and television.

Colonization, Fire Suppression, and Indigenous Resurgence in the Face of Climate Change

One of the key tools the Karuk have long used to maintain this natural wealth is fire, something I’ve learned about in my time as a research collaborator and consultant working for the Karuk Tribe. Indeed, fire records obtained from studies in California clearly indicate that Native land management has shaped the evolutionary trajectory of the region for at least 12,000 years.

As Fire Risk Explodes Across the West, an Oregon City Finds a Solution

Using selective logging and controlled burns, Ashland has reduced fire risk on thousands of acres in the forested watershed that provides the city’s drinking water. The partnership that made it happen could be a model for other fire-prone communities.

What Needs to be Done to Stop Wildfires in Drought-Killed Forests

It’s now widely understood that a century of misguided – but well-intentioned – policies over the past 100 years produced forests that are too densely packed with small trees and too vulnerable to possibly catastrophic fires. Water supplies are also a concern, because the forests are nature’s water-storage sponges.