The combination of years of Western North American wildfire footage on the news and traumatic childhood memories of my father by the fireplace wielding a can of lighter fluid has caused me to treat fire as an uncontrollable, unpredictable force of nature, worthy of my fear. I was aware that some fires were started deliberately for the purpose of environmental management but wasn’t quite sure I trusted the concept. But a post on Treehugger.com has proven to me that not only can fire be safely harnessed for brush-clearing but it can help mitigate climate change and has many social benefits!

According to the article by David DeFranza, indigenous Australian communities have advised their government on fire management techniques which have had the following results:

  • Reducing CO2-equivalent emissions in Northern Australia by 488,000 tonnes
  • Creating 200+ jobs
  • Generating 1 million tonnes of carbon credit sales every year
  • Transferring traditional knowledge among generations
  • Increasing cross-cultural confidence
  • Creating a model for poverty reduction

Who knew that following traditional methods to attain our modern day goals could have such positive effects? It is a concept to which I hadn’t given enough thought as I figured, as most of us do, that our problems are too complex to be solved in ancient ways. I appreciate the quote by Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, chair of the UN body on Indigenous Issues, “the world would gain greatly from proven ancient approaches built on profound respect for the Earth” which seems simultaneously inspired and grounded. I wonder what other existing solutions we are overlooking because they seem too traditional or too simple?

While you’re over at Treehugger, make sure to check out their “Earth on Fire” slideshow. It’s home to some truly awe-inspiring photos of the beauty and power of fire. My favorite is the one of Kilauea where the forces of fire and water come together with some steamy consequences.

Do you have photos or stories about the environmental impact of fire that you’d like to share? Feel free to use the comment section here or post on our Facebook page!

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