Adam Pennington

Adam Pennington
Planning & Conservation Impact Specialist


On-country burning, mapping and planning with Oak Valley Land Management

Led by Oak Valley Land Management, over 50 people participated in a highly successful on-country activity that ambitiously integrated traditional burning, cultural mapping and site visitation with planning for the future of the highly diverse Maralinga Tjarutja Lands in central northwest South Australia.

Conservation Management were engaged to support on-ground land management activities, facilitate land management planning and mentor new staff recently employed with Natural Resources Alinytjara Wilurara.

The multi-faceted activity created the opportunity to;

  • Bring together Anangu Elders, Rangers and community members from 2 remote communities on their traditional lands;
  • Burn 1200 – 2000- ha of country, including creation of a buffer from summer fires for Oak Valley and significant sites northwest of the community;
  • Locate one new record for the nationally listed threatened species, Nganamara (Mallee fowl);
  • Visit and maintain one traditional water source (rockhole);
  • Visit over 30 sites of cultural significance;
  • Support over 20 Anangu to visit sites by helicopter;
  • Locate one previously unrecorded rockhole.

Since establishment in mid to late 2018, Oak Valley Land Management has grown to employ 6 Anangu Rangers in permanent positions complemented by a casual ranger pool of around 30 Anangu.

Although the program is relatively new, it has developed relatively rapidly with Anangu Rangers taking on a high level of responsibility.

A major focus of this early stage of the program is the transfer of traditional knowledge from older to younger generations. This is particularly important as there are several Elders in the neighbouring community of Tjuntjuntjara in Western Australia who were born and / or lived a traditional life and travelled through the Maralinga Tjarutja lands prior to European contact, some until as recently as 1986.

The on-country burning, mapping and planning activity provided a great opportunity to integrate planning discussions around land management with on-ground land management and cultural heritage actions.

Conservation Management looks forward to continuing to work with Oak Valley Land Management and Traditional Owners of Maralinga Tjarutja Lands in the important work they are doing in and on their inherently significant country.

Aerial view of fire lit by Oak Valley Rangers on the northern side of camp. Photo credit: Ben Deslandes.

Oak Valley Rangers Cindy Watson (front) and Hillary Williams (back) observing progress of a trackside burn during the activity. Reinstating traditional burning regimes is a key focus of the Oak Valley Land Management Program.  Photo credit: Ben Deslandes.

Group photo taken on the last morning of the activity. Photo credit Ben Deslandes.

Planning meeting on the morning of the 2nd day, following the arrival of Spinifex Rangers and Elders the previous evening. Photo credit: Adam Pennington

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