The concept of prescribed burning is premised on the idea that fire risk is related to the weight of fine biomass in a forest, predominantly leaf mulch. Because this accumulates after fire until balanced by decay, older forests are considered highly flammable. As a result, forests are treated as dangerous to both humans and to themselves unless kept in a state of disturbance; unless humans take charge and manage them. I will contrast this belief system with the body of science showing that forests in fact create stable environments if allowed to mature, that it is in fact disturbance that creates the increased level of risk. By considering this in the context of approaches that enabled Australia’s First Nations to survive as the most ancient living cultures on earth, the presentation will attempt to articulate a new paradigm in which we are co-residents cooperating with country, rather than managers subduing it.