What is TRADITIONAL ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE ?
Gangalidda and Garawa Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is the system of understanding of our environment, built over generations as our people depended on the land and sea for their food, material and culture. Knowledge of fire is one aspect of TEK. Fire is an important part of our law and culture, part of the reciprocal relationship we have with the land and our responsibility to it.
European visitors to the Gulf noted the use of fire by our ancestors as early as the 1840s. Traditional fire practice continues to be a fundamental part of life in our communities. Ongoing fire management practice ensures the availability of important bush foods such as thurnkugu (wild blackberry), junggula (bush cucumber), jardabu (emu) and bulginda (wallaby).
Understanding of traditional fire management practice is held and passed down by elders through the teaching of Dreaming stories, detailed environmental knowledge and burning skills. The result is a complex and multidimensional contribution to the maintenance of landscapes, ecological diversity and environmental health.
The Jigija Indigenous Fire Management Program provides the cross-cultural means to organize and communicate TEK to enable its inclusion in contemporary fire management practice.