Managing fires on native lands could lead to windfall

Managing fires on native lands could lead to windfall

22 December 2008

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Australia — Indigenous communities could earn $52 million a year by controlling bushfires as part of Australia’s new trade in carbon credits, a report says.

The CSIRO study said fire management on indigenous lands could stop 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide hitting the atmosphere every year.

Other land management measures, such as replanting cleared areas, could provide many more millions of dollars in revenue, the report showed.

Dr Dan Walker, head of sustainable ecosystems research at CSIRO, said: “Indigenous lands account for 54 per cent of all potential emissions reductions from Australia’s fire-prone savannas and rangelands, meaning that indigenous contributions to greenhouse gas abatement are very significant to Australia.”

The report said more than 1000 jobs would be created, with about half of those ranger-style roles.

The report’s lead author Scott Heckbert said the potential for indigenous communities was “significant” and that carbon credits could be seen as “a new primary industry”.

He explained that by limiting the area of land which burns each year, property owners could directly affect the carbon dioxide released during fires.

He said it would enable more indigenous people to “get back out in the country” to manage their lands. The Government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme, to be introduced in 18 months, would allow credits to be created from fire management no earlier than 2015.

The study examined six Indigenous Land Corporation properties across Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland and assumed a carbon market price of $20 a tonne.

Indigenous Land Corporation general manager David Galvin said the reduction scheme had the potential to provide economic development opportunities for indigenous people.

“There are numerous consultants already engaging indigenous people with promises of developing ventures in the carbon market,” he said. “It is therefore crucial that the costs, and potential risks, of engaging in the scheme are well also understood by indigenous landowners.”

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