Native Title and Carbon: Experience from the North Kimberley fire abatement project

Tuesday, 3 June 2014
Polly Grace
Chloe Nulgitt

The Australian Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) provides an avenue for exclusive possession native title holders to participate in the carbon market through recognising the legal right of native title holders to carry out carbon projects.

Carbon offset projects present a win-win opportunity for Traditional Owners to reduce carbon emissions, promote positive environmental outcomes and support the development of sustainable business opportunities in remote Aboriginal communities through cultural and natural resource management activities.

The North Kimberley Fire Abatement Project is a partnership between four native title groups (Wunambal Gaambera, Balanggarra, Wilinggin and Dambimangari) in the far north west Kimberley. It involves Traditional Owners and Indigenous rangers conducting strategic burns on country in the early dry season in order to avoid and control big late season wildfires and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These groups have relied upon their exclusive possession native title to successfully register four Eligible Offset Projects under the CFI and are looking towards establishing carbon businesses to support the continuation of these activities.

The experience of these groups demonstrates how native title rights can be used to support community aspirations to increase cultural natural resource management activities, and the role of complementary legislation in achieving this.