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What is Galk-galk Dhelkunya Forest Gardening?

There are a lot of conversations being had lately about science, conservation, and forest gardening. Recent contributions to the published debate have drawn artificial lines separating western science from Traditional Owner knowledge.

DJAARA has worked very hard with ecologists and scientists in developing our Galk-galk Dhelkunya (to care, to heal trees, forests) Forest Gardening Strategy. We know that to care for and restore the health of our forests and landscapes, we have to incorporate different approaches and understanding. Fortunately, these invaluable contributions have supported our approaches and provided a western science lens through which to view tens of thousands of years of effective landscape management that Dja Dja Wurrung have practised and continue to practise.

Forest Gardening is not logging. It is healing Djandak (Dja Dja Wurrung Country) and includes cultural thinning, revegetation and cultural burning. Our knowledge represents over 65,000 years of land management experience.

DJAARA asserted its rights to lead storm recovery and removal of windthrown trees following the 2021 storms in the Wombat State Forest. The works were needed to make Country safe, to remove the fire risk of fallen timber around standing trees, and to enable emergency access in the event of wildfire. Whilst some of this work was completed, DJAARA was unable to access the forest and complete the removal of windthrown timber.

The removal of wind thrown timber was not Forest Gardening. To date, the only contemporary Forest Gardening application has been at one small trial site.
Forest Gardening is DJAARA’s contemporary philosophy and practice of managing cultural landscapes on Djandak.

It is about healing Dja Dja Wurrung People while healing Djandak through the active use of traditional land management tools including cultural burning, cultural thinning, revegetation, restoration of waterways, and returning culturally important plants and animals to Country.

The conversation about what Forest Gardening is to Dja Dja Wurrung People and how it can be implemented in the broader central Victoria landscape is ongoing. To better understand our work, please read the Strategy here and Factsheet here.

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Download the full DJAARA Media Statement – What is Forest Gardening