Partnering with Royal Holloway, University of London, to study wildfires in South Rupununi
October - November, 2020
"Changing practices of Indigenous peoples' fire use and implications for management in South Rupununi"
This research project is using an interdisciplinary approach to understand how changes in land and fire use impact fire regimes, and what the implications are for wildfire management in the South Rupununi savannas. It will investigate historical influences on Indigenous land and fire use practices including changes in settlement patterns and land use, the introduction of cattle, and trends in precipitation. It will also seek to understand how these changes have influenced current land and fire use practices, and fire patterns/regimes (what type of fires are burning, where, when, how, and why).
Using the historical ecological context, and an understanding of current practices, the research will then address what contemporary approaches for wildfire management is being taken by varying stakeholders and what this means for local land fire management.
The SRCS is partnering on the research to provide a baseline on the impacts of fire on wildlife and help gather data for understanding the current fire patterns. In the context of increasing climate uncertainty and risk from wildfires, more research into understanding the complex relationship between fire/ humans/ environment/climate needs to be done. The South Rupununi District Council, an important partner, has already made fire management a priority for the Wapichan with a previous study in 2011 providing an overview that became part of the Wapichan's current management plan for South Rupununi. Shulinab, one of our partner villages, also recently completed a fire management plan. We hope that a baseline can be established and future research into fire in the South Rupununi can help inform and support current local management.