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What sets Indigenous carbon projects apart? Where the money goes.

At the Indigenous Carbon Industry Network (ICIN) we promote the model of 100% Indigenous owned and operated projects. Our membership comprises these organisations, currently totaling 28 full members. We support continued growth in the Indigenous carbon industry as Indigenous land rights claims increase and accessible carbon methods are made available.  

This specific model – Indigenous owned and operated carbon projects – fosters genuine economic self-determination and inspirational ripple effects that benefit entire communities. Interestingly, it is these whole-of-community benefits that are the core drivers of projects for Indigenous organisations – although undoubtedly the data shows these projects also result in significant environmental impacts through carbon sequestration and abatement.

We are proud of how carbon revenue uplifts entire communities through various initiatives. Here are some examples: 

  • Providing full-time education for children in remote communities: ICIN full member Warddeken Land Management, West Arnhem Land, Northern Territory (NT), is an Indigenous owned company and a founding partner of the first savanna fire management carbon project. This project (the Western Arnhem Land Fire Abatement project) covers 28,000km2, allows Traditional Owners to live and work on Country, and is a large producer of carbon credits.

    Historically, families in the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) faced the difficult choice of sending their children away from their homelands to access education. Unable to receive an adequate response from the NT Department of Education, concerned elders worked with Warddeken to chart an independent path forward.  

    In 2015, Warddeken carbon funds facilitated the founding of the Nawarddeken Academy, an organisation dedicated to delivering bicultural community driven education in remote communities. Its first registered, independent primary school opened in Kabulwarnamyo in 2019, and further schools were opened in Manmoyi and Mamadawerre in 2021. All three schools offer Early Learning Programs and are now formally registered as independent schools and receive ongoing Federal funding. Next up, Nawarddeken is looking into secondary level education.

    Supported by Nawarddeken Academy staff, Bininj teachers, governance facilitators, and cultural experts, this initiative secures educational opportunities for Indigenous children in these remote areas, made possible due to the foundational investment of carbon revenue.
  • Supporting women rangers to feel safe and valued in the workplace: Since 2015, ICIN full member Mimal Land Management, in south-central Arnhem Land, NT, has operated as an Indigenous-owned Aboriginal Corporation. Their ranger teams use traditional knowledge and cultural practices to care for Country, contributing to several carbon projects that benefit their communities.  

    In 2019, Rembarrnga, Dalabon, and Mayili elders invited women rangers from across the NT to meet at Bawurrbarnda in central Arnhem Land. At this first meeting, 32 ranger groups shared challenges they face as women in a male dominated sector and articulated their needs. It was with carbon revenue that these women were supported to formalise this important gathering into the Strong Women for Healthy Country Network.  

    The Network is guided by the principle that Strong Women means Healthy Country, provides a forum for women who often live in very remote areas to come together as one strong voice and has supported the development of a shared vision. Through the Network there are ranger exchanges, women’s camps, training and annual Strong Women for Healthy Country forums. Every two months Message Stick Meetings are convened to maintain communication across all members.  

    Most recently the Network launched best practice principles, which were presented at ICIN's 2024 North Australia Savanna Fire Forum (pictured below), outlining what is required for women to feel safe and supported in the workplace. These principles include respectful workplaces, dedicated resources and training, flexible work schedules and representation in decision-making processes.  

These examples highlight why Indigenous carbon credits—derived from Indigenous owned and run carbon projects—hold a different value and command a higher price compared to other carbon credits. Unlike other carbon projects that emphasise 'co-benefits'—additional benefits beyond emissions reduction and sequestration that have resulted from the project—Indigenous Carbon Credits prioritise collective community benefits. This distinction firmly places Indigenous-owned and operated carbon projects in an impressive and successful category of their own. 

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