Author(s): Victor Steffensen
Delving deep into the Australian landscape and its alarming state of devastation, Fire Country is a powerful account from Indigenous land management expert Victor Steffensen on how the revival of Indigenous fire practices, including what's called 'cool burns', could restore our country. Fire Country offers practical solutions for better 'reading country' and knowing when is the right time to undertake cool burns, considering current climate conditions and each landscape's specific ecosystem. From the age of 18, Victor has spent time on country learning traditional cultural and ecological knowledge from Elders. Having been developed over many generations of his people living on the land, this knowledge shows clearly that Australia actually needs fire - with burning done in a controlled manner - for land care and healing. Victor's writing is unassuming and honest, written in a manner that reflects the nature of yarning. And while much of the knowledge shared in his book is still unknown to western science, there is much evidence that, if adopted, it will benefit all Australians.
Victor's story is a cry from the heart for change in how Australia cares for country. From the age of 18, Victor Steffensen spent time on country learning traditional Indigenous cultural and ecological knowledge. He quickly realised this knowledge was incredibly well considered, having been developed over many generations of his people living on the land, and that Australia actually needs fire – with burning done in a controlled manner – for land care and healing. Despite much resistance from park rangers and other government officials, Victor came to set up Mulong, a consultancy service offering fire management workshops for uni students and private landholders through to CFA workers, rural fire services and pastoralists. Victor’s experiences and stories are told in Fire Country, a book that will highlight the Australian landscape’s alarming state of disrepair and devastation, and how revival of Indigenous fire practices could bring ecological health to our country. Much of the knowledge shared in this book is still unknown to western science, but there is much evidence that, if adopted, it will benefit all Australians. In light of recent bushfires across Australia, this book offers practical solutions for better 'reading' country, taking account of current environmental conditions and the ecosystem of each different landscape. Victor says, 'For those who have gone through a trauma [as a result of any bushfire], it is very sensitive. I want to really acknowledge that. But at the end of the day I don't see fear – I see an opportunity.' May we all finally take up that opportunity.