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July update from the Network

Happy NAIDOC week, sector and ICIN updates and what sets Indigenous carbon projects apart

It has been a pleasure supporting the Network as Interim CEO for the past three months. As we look forward to welcoming Anna Boustead back as CEO in mere weeks, I find myself reflecting on why the Network is so important, its essential and unique role, and the significance of the Indigenous carbon industry.

This industry comprises Indigenous organisations—ICIN's full members—that own and manage carbon projects. These projects are proven to promote genuine economic self-determination and lead to positive ripple effects that benefit entire communities. Not to mention their environmental contribution towards Australia’s emissions reductions targets!

Click the button below to read examples of carbon revenue benefiting entire Indigenous communities, it's inspirational stuff! I can't think of any other sector that's delivering such a broad range of benefits to Indigenous communities, culture and the environment as this one does.

This week is national NAIDOC week, with the theme: Keep the fire burning! Blak, loud and proud (the artwork below is titled 'Urapun Muy' by Deb Belyea). It's a theme that honours the enduring strength and vitality of First Nations culture – with fire a symbol of connection to Country. It’s certainly a theme close to ICIN’s mission and purpose.

We are incredibly proud of the work of our full members who care for Country, culture and communities through 34 Indigenous-owned and operated savanna fire management carbon projects, and four projects in other carbon methods. Here's to supporting many more Indigenous organisations to keep the fire burning and benefit from carbon markets through their land and sea management practices, 
Shaun Ansell
Interim CEO, ICIN

Photo credit, above: ICIN Director Suzanne Thompson, ICIN Co-Chair Dr Dean Yibarbuk and Elder Mike Ross from the Olkola Aboriginal Corporation at the 2024 North Australia Savanna Fire Forum. 

ICIN's Blue Carbon report briefing for policy experts well attended   

Over 70 policy experts joined ICIN's online briefing about findings from our report 'Blue Carbon in Australia: understanding the opportunity for First Nations People'. Participants attended from all States and Territories, representing a range of State and Federal Government departments. 

ICIN’s presentation outlined important policy recommendations designed to increase Indigenous participation in Blue Carbon. These included: 

  • Grant Indigenous people the rights to own and sell carbon in coastal ecosystems where the Crown may otherwise have the carbon right (i.e., outside of privately or Indigenous owned lands).
  • Require that for all ACCU Scheme projects where the Crown (as either State, Territory or Australian Government) holds an eligible interest, Indigenous people must also be consulted in the project development.
  • Prioritise the development of ACCU Scheme Methods that are applicable to the Indigenous estate.
  • Provide financial and technical assistance to Indigenous people to develop and implement blue carbon projects, including establishing a start-up fund.
  • Work with Indigenous people to develop and implement cultural and environmental safeguards for blue carbon projects.
  • Examine the operation of non-ACCU scheme carbon projects in Australia and provide guidance on the protection of Indigenous rights.

There will be further presentations of report findings to different audiences, including to Indigenous audiences, please reach out via [email protected] for information on sessions, and if you would like access to the video recording of the briefing. 

Vast early dry season (EDS) burns showcase ICIN members' mammoth efforts 

Thanks to NAFI who provided us with this image detailing the extent of 2024's early dry season fires in the tropical savannas. In this image you can see fine-scale burning has occurred over 8% of the mapped area of northern Australia. This is a mammoth effort in often very remote areas. Well done all!

EDS fires (conducted during the months of April to July) contribute less carbon to the atmosphere than more destructive late dry season fires (during the months of July to December). This is because EDS fires are usually smaller, can be easily managed, leave pockets of unburnt vegetation including intact canopy and foster biodiversity.

NAFI funding update 

The NAFI service, which is used by all savanna fire carbon projects to calculate abatement, has struggled to secure ongoing budgeted federal funding despite the essential role it plays in supporting carbon projects to measure impact.

Recently, federal funding has been secured that covers:

  • The NAFI burnt area fire history across northern Australia that is used by SavBAT to calculate emissions, this has been funded by the federal government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) for the next four years.
  • The web service NAFI, that delivers regular updates of this mapping along with the hotspots of active fires, together with tools and a range of fire histories, has received one year of funding from the federal department of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and with additional funds to help NAFI work with beneficiaries to secure longer-term funding.

Thanks NAFI for this update, ICIN hopes further long-term funding can be secured for this vital service.

Photo caption: The NAFI team at the 2024 North Australia Savanna Fire Forum. 

Other updates

  • Latest research shows Indigenous management of fire in Australia's tropical savannas began at least 11,000 years ago – and possibly as long as 40,000 years ago. This research took an 18-metre core sample from sediment at Girraween Lagoon on the outskirts of Darwin/Larrakia Country. 
  • ICIN is looking forward to seeing you all at the August Dangkal Gwo’Yal-Wa First Nations Land and Water Management Forum on Larrakia Country, Darwin. We will be presenting our Blue Carbon research and will have a booth in the marketplace. 
  • A draft submission on the Environmental Plantings Carbon Method is currently out for consultation until 15th July, if any members have views or think ICIN should make a submission please reach out to [email protected]
  • Watch ICIN Co-Chair Dr Dean Yibarbuk's keynote speech at the 7th Fire Behaviour and Fuels Conference in Canberra, May 2024. 
  • ICIN member Olkola are involved in establishing Australia’s first Carbon Management Hub (CMH) by Traditional Owners in the Cape York region, please reach out to Olkola CEO Deb Symonds for more information. 
  • ICIN member the Kimberley Land Council recognised for Indigenous fire management programs that preserve vast Kimberley landscape.


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