WARU (Fire) program

Waru, the Martu name for fire, is an integral part of life in the desert. Waru has been used for thousands of years for improving areas for bush foods, renewing growth and connecting with jukurrpa. When Martu country became empty in the 1960’s, this continual small scale and expertly applied burning ceased, leaving the Western Desert vulnerable to lightening ignited wildfires. Left unchecked, desert wildfires can burn millions of hectares in a year.

The KJ waru program aims to re-instate that pujiman burning pattern through the use of traditional knowledge held by Martu, combined with contemporary science and practices. Through the cooler months rangers focus much of their land management efforts on burning to improve threatened species habitats, protect cultural sites and communities, reduce the spread of summer fires and allow for continued traditional hunting and gathering. Information is recorded on the timing and location of the work. This is later mapped using satellite imagery to track the progress and efforts made.

Click here to watch the film: Waru, kuka, mirrka wankarringu-lampaju - Burning, bushfoods and biodiversity

We’re teaching all the young generations showing them so that they can see. The fire that they burn turns into nyurnma. So that they can see when the rain hits the ground that it brings back all the plants so that they grow back all the different seeds. All the different plants that was once burnt. That’s how in the old days the bushmen did it, light up the country with the fire, so that all the plants grow back.
— Martu elder