Perhaps the best way to plan for fire is to combine traditional, Aboriginal methods with Western science. In fact, Aboriginal people have long made fire an ally and even incorporated it into their customs, including artwork, stories and dance. When it comes to managing fire, they use fire to ‘fight’ the fire with the cool burn method which involves burning areas of the landscape in a mosaic-like pattern. However, in many parts of Australia, cool burns are not possible due to the urbanisation of the landscape where houses, roads and highways break up the landscape.
Since colonisation, Western scientists have tried to manage the landscape differently. They use methods that include technologies such as helicopter water bombing, weather forecasting via GPS and firefighting equipment. Fortunately, some of these methods are effective in fighting bushfires, but they are less effective in preventing fire in the first place. For this reason, a combination of cool burning with Western technologies may be the best answer to planning for Australia’s fires.