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The North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance Ltd (NAILSMA) initiated the Carbon Program to highlight how traditional burning can be a unique environmental service that creates local benefits, nationally and globally and builds on the foundation established in West Arnhem Land.

For hundreds of generations, Indigenous people have been using fire in the landscape. They burnt to encourage new growth, to help with hunting, and for ceremonial purposes. They also burnt to protect important places and resources from destructive and unmanaged late dry season wildfires.

Why are we involved?

Over time, with colonisation, changing land use and depopulation, vast areas across north Australia have succumbed to destructive late season wildfires.

Indigenous fire practices and knowledge have been confirmed by scientific research and now upheld as Government policy as an essential tool for the future conservation of northern Australia'.

Joe Morrison, CEO, NAILSMA Ltd.

Using the best available science, we have built partnerships that are able to demonstrate how traditional burning of northern savanna landscapes reduces wildfires, creates a patchwork of habitats for plants and animals, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. 

With our partner organisations, we are currently developing a number of landscape-scale savanna fire management projects focused on pursuing carbon trading opportunities for Indigenous land managers and others across northern Australia.

Currently, fires across northern Australia produce around 3% of our national greenhouse gas emissions, but in places like the Northern Territory, they account for approximately 40% of the NT's total emission profile.

Working with a variety of partners, including Bushfires NT and CSIRO, our Carbon Program is helping Indigenous land managers set up, own, and run their own carbon and fire abatement projects.

As well as much needed employment, the benefits of reducing greenhouse emissions include continuing cultural and linguistic skills, renewing customary food and ceremonial resources, reviving community cooperation, and instilling confidence and pride.

Central to our Carbon Program is the belief that tackling climate change is not just about lowering greenhouse gas emissions. It is also about helping people and nature survive its inevitable effects.

Wildfires are not only the consequence of Indigenous people moving from away from their traditional lands and practices. Health and social problems have also resulted from this displacement. But a return to Indigenous ways of managing the land can help solve many challenges.

Want to know more about our Carbon Program?

Go to the Carbon Program on the Information Hub.

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