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Managing fire in the Kimberley and sharing that knowledge with the world

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Two indigenous men stand in front of a helicopter
Robin Dann (left) and Donovan Wungundin relax after completing a full day of aerial proscribed burning on Wilinggin Country in the North Kimberley Fire Abatement Project chopper. Photo Credit Kimberley Land Council
8 Mar 2016

The North Kimberley Fire Abatement Project has great potential to create jobs and increase economic development from new carbon businesses.

Using the Savanna Fire Management method, the Dambimangari, Wunggurr, Uunguu and Balanggarra ranger groups and traditional owners conduct early dry season burns. These burns reduce the intensity and number of hot wildfires later in the season and therefore the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere.

Over the last two years, these four native title groups have amassed more than 290,000 Australian Carbon Credit Units* for their fire management projects. The sale of the units helps the North Kimberley communities to continue their land management plans into the future.

The income generated by the early season fire project also helps to sustain traditional ‘right way’ fire management practices.

Robin Dann, a Wunggurr Ranger, knows the many benefits of the project.

“Fire has been a part of our lives for centuries and we use it for many different things,” Robin said.

“The carbon project lets us get back on country, continue burning, protect the environment and earn money for our communities.”

Sharing the skills acquired and the knowledge gained is a priority for the Land Council. Recently, Council representatives hosted a forum about savanna burning on the World Network of Indigenous and Local Community Land and Sea Managers website.

In November 2015, several Kimberley Land Council representatives attended the United Nations Climate Change 21st Conference of Parties in Paris. One highlight for the group was their participation in an industry roundtable forum which revealed the global potential of the t Kimberley region’s successful “world-class” savanna burning projects.

Nolan Hunter, Chief Executive Officer of the Kimberley Land Council attended the forum.

“All of the benefits we can get from managing our country and using the link between western science and our cultural knowledge lead to ongoing sustainability in our future interests for our people and the next generation,” he said.

These events have inspired other countries’ interest in using the burning method. They also show the unique role of Indigenous people in tackling climate change and changing lives by creating jobs and developing economies.

Find out more

The Australian Government currently funds the Wunggurr, Uunguu and Balanggarra ranger projects through the Kimberley Land Council.

The Kimberley Land Council delegation to the United Nations conference in Paris was sponsored by the Australian Government, OXFAM, Australian Conservation Foundation and the United Nations Development Agency.

* An Australian Carbon Credit Unit represents one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent stored or avoided by a project.

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