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June update from the Network

NEW REPORT OUT NOW: Blue Carbon in Australia, understanding the opportunity for Indigenous People

ICIN is pleased to launch our latest report, supported with funding from the National Environmental Science Program (NESP), which reveals new spatial analysis and barriers to Indigenous participation in blue carbon in Australia.

The report reveals Indigenous Peoples hold legal or consent rights to undertake carbon projects along 66% of Australia’s coastline. Yet despite this there are minimal opportunities to participate in the blue carbon market due to a lack of applicable methods.

"We need methods that actually work for us. Without Indigenous leadership and inclusion, particularly in the method development stage, Australia’s blue carbon potential will not be realised,” said Sarah Parriman, ICIN Director.

The current sole Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) Scheme blue carbon method ‘Tidal restoration of blue carbon ecosystems’ is largely not applicable to Indigenous Peoples lands as projects are designed for areas where there has been decline in the ecosystem, with an opportunity to improve it. The majority of the 66% figure applies to coastline in the Northern Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia which in most cases is in relatively good condition due to the ongoing management by Indigenous Peoples.

The report recommends that Australia’s Federal, State and Territory laws recognise the rights of Indigenous Peoples to own and sell carbon in coastal ecosystems where the Crown may otherwise have interests (this is outside of private or Indigenous owned land). This would recognise the strong and ongoing connection that Indigenous Peoples have had with their lands and waters for millennia. 

The report also recommends the Australian carbon industry adopt default governance models that position Indigenous Peoples as blue carbon project owners, or at a minimum equal joint partners.

"Many international examples now exist where blue carbon projects prioritise Indigenous Peoples, their knowledge, and their rights. Australia must step up or risk falling behind global best practice,” added Ms Parriman.

Latest updates on the new savanna fire management (SFM) method 

In late May, the Australian Government's Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) presented updates to the savanna fire industry regarding the development of the new SFM method. The update focused on three points: 

Progress of method: The method is progressing well, with the draft on track to be presented to the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (ERAC) by September 2024, and likely followed by a public consultation process.

SavCAM: The front end of SavCAM (the revised tool that automates the abatement/sequestration calculations within the new SFM method) will be available for testing by the end of the financial year. DCCEEW also noted data and models within SavCAM will not be available for public testing until the public consultation period for the method is open.

Baselines: A revised proposed approach to the treatment of baselines when transferring existing projects was presented. The new approach allows existing projects to maintain their pre-project baselines. It also credits carbon stored in the landscape above the baseline scenario, with a sequestration permanence period beginning from the start of transition to the sequestration component of the new method. Thanks to ALFA for this update.

Feral ungulate blue carbon method submitted, get in touch with further ideas 

The ERAC is currently accepting expressions of interest (EOIs) for new proponent led carbon methods. EOIs should be submitted by 12 July 2024, with the ERAC responsible for assessing EOIs against their potential to meet the legislated Offsets Integrity Standards (OIS), and specified criteria.

Informed by research on the scale and severity of feral animal impact in different regions by the Northern Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) in partnership with ICIN and research partners, a new method 'Reducing disturbance of coastal and floodplain wetlands by managing ungulates' has been submitted by NAILSMA and the University of Queensland for consideration.

This method, which is also supported by a much larger group of Indigenous land and sea managers and other specialists, provides the opportunity to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but to have significant biodiversity and cultural benefits for severely impacted coastal ecosystems.

Please reach out to Shaun Ansell, interim ICIN CEO, on [email protected] with any further input or ideas on proponent led carbon methods. 

Photo caption: ICIN Board Director Neville Gulay Gulay pointing out the damage caused to the sensitive soil of wetlands by buffalo, Warrdeke Swamp Land. 

WATCH: The 6th North Australia Savanna Fire Forum highlights video 

Thank you to the following people who participated in interviews at the Forum: ICIN Board members Suzanne Thompson, Cissy Gore-Birch and Sarah Parriman, and Forum participants and speakers Mandy Muir, Terrah Guymala, Dr Otto Campion and Rohan Fisher. A big thanks to the team at Moogie Down Productions who managed interviews and the edit of this video. Happy watching and sharing on your social media channels. 

Photo caption: Jaxon De Santis, from Solid Rock Entertainment, performing at the 6th North Australia Savanna Fire Forum. 

Budget 24 - ICIN supports new commitments that protect Indigenous rights in carbon

ICIN is largely supportive of new budget commitments from the federal government that protect Indigenous rights in carbon and support the development of the Australian carbon industry. We welcome the May 2024 budget announcement of $12.2 million for First Nations peoples to participate in upfront consent processes for Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) projects. The purpose of this funding is to increase the legal expertise needed to support First Nations Peoples’ participation in consent negotiations for ACCU projects on Native Title lands, including $11.8 million to be delivered by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).

This is an important funding commitment in an area which is under resourced to support Native Title processes and legal Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) requirements,” said ICIN interim CEO Shaun Ansell.

Other important updates from the broader community:

  • Discussion paper: Integrated Farm and Land Management (IFLM) Method Framework, view the Carbon Market Institute's latest proposal for the IFLM carbon method, access the paper here
  • ASIC has released a consultation paper on proposed updates to its regulatory guidance for participants in the carbon market in relation to Australian financial services (AFS) licensing requirements, read more here.
  • Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation (ASRAC) is currently recruiting for the position of Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) Coordinator, read more here
  • Indigenous-led study unveils framework to attain Cultural Licence to Operate, download the final report and view the short film here
  • Dangkal Gwo'yal-wa First Nations Land and Water Management Forum 2024 announced for August 27 - 29 on Larrakia Country, read more here
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