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Growing opportunities in carbon market boom

Statement from the 1st National Indigenous Carbon Forum, 16 February 2022

Thursday February 17, 2022

Indigenous groups from around Australia have heard of the growing opportunities available to boost a raft of cultural, environmental and economic benefits through the carbon market at the inaugural National Indigenous Carbon Forum yesterday hosted by ICIN.

More than 250 people have gathered online over the past two days to hear speakers from across the sector, as part of North Australia Savanna Fire Forum and yesterday’s inaugural National Indigenous Carbon Forum, facilitated by MC Nova Peris OAM (pictured).

The Clean Energy Regulator’s Jennifer Bradley told the forum about the Federal Government’s priorities for creating new methodologies that assess and award carbon credits.

“Last year, the regulator developed new methods for blue carbon and soil carbon …I thought these two might be of keen interest for this audience,” Ms Bradley said. “We’re also looking at five (new) methods for 2022, including new savanna fire management methods.

“We seek to build upon the previous savanna fire management methods and offer new opportunities to be recognised for achieving emissions reductions and carbon sequestration.”

The forum also heard of Indigenous-led science aimed to develop methods to earn credits for broader land management, including the removal of feral buffalo and pigs.

Mimal Land Management CEO Dominic Nicholls said a collaboration with ranger groups facilitated by ICIN has led to the draft of a wild herbivore management carbon method.

“It’s one of our priorities for our land management activities, trying to find a solution to one of our biggest problems,” Mr Nicholls said. “Feral animals are a massive threat that is devastating landscapes on a large scale."

The Carbon Market Institute and Market Advisory Group spoke of a positive outlook in the national and global carbon market, where the price of carbon has tripled in the past year to around $53 per unit.

Further, Indigenous-derived units are a highly-sought premium product that currently makes up more than 50 per cent of those sold on the voluntary market.

“Savanna burning units are premium and in demand due to the additional co-benefits they offer - from management of country, fire prevention and biodiversity outcomes,” the Market Advisory Group’s Lachlan Ince explained.

The Indigenous Carbon Industry Network co-chair Cissy Gore-Birch told the forum that as groups begin to enter the market and as new opportunities come online, it’s important to get the right information and to protect Indigenous rights.

“When you think about the story it's a win-win situation, you can't really lose out on this,” Ms Gore-Birch said. “It's really important to really think about where you are as traditional owners, understanding your rights and interest in this space, and making sure you get the right people and the right information.”

“The role that ICIN is playing in this space is to really get the information out to our members and to others about your rights and interest in the carbon space, to be able to advocate on our behalf to the federal government, to work in partnership with the other land councils and other groups.”

The forum also heard from Kimberley Land Council CEO, Tyronne Garstone - also a Director of ICIN - who said industry and governments must ensure that groups were not locked out of important opportunities to earn revenue by caring for their country.

“While carbon projects offer significant opportunities, without proper consultation and appropriate checks and balances, and a commitment to seeking ongoing free, prior and informed consent, there is a risk of third-party projects contributing to the disempowerment of Indigenous people.”

“We need industry and policy-makers actively working to protect native title rights and interests, and ensuring access to these economic opportunities for Traditional Owners – in method development, consent considerations, and pricing discussions - to put Traditional Owners in the driving seat.”

Ms Gore-Birch officially launched the Indigenous Carbon Industry Network at the forum as an independent Indigenous-owned not-for-profit company.

“This is a significant milestone in the evolution of this Indigenous-owned and Indigenous-led industry and in supporting more Indigenous groups to benefit from opportunities emerging in carbon markets and carbon methods,” Ms Gore-Birch said.

“It is a huge achievement and demonstrates the growth and leadership of Indigenous people in the carbon industry.”

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