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Video: Northern Australia fire management with the Emissions Reduction Fund (extended version)

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Publication Date: 
February 2020

Join Ernie Dingo as he shares the story of how Indigenous Australians and others across Australia’s north are reducing emissions, benefiting communities and business, and helping the environment. Learn how projects are using traditional Indigenous fire management and being supported by the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund to contribute to global action on climate change.

The department thanks the participants and organisations for making this film possible: Ernie Dingo, Mimal Rangers, Arafura Swamp Rangers, Wunggurr Rangers, Uunguu Rangers, Djelk Rangers, ALFA (NT) Limited, Kimberley Land Council, Killin Management, Aboriginal Carbon Foundation, Indigenous Carbon Industry Network, Darwin Centre for Bushfire Research and the Charles Darwin University, Qantas, Bush Heritage, the broader savanna carbon farming community for being part of this success story.


Ernie Dingo: With its vast and rugged landscapes, immense beauty, wildlife, scenery, history, law, culture, and ancient art, northern Australia is one of the most spectacular places on Earth.

However, like all our natural treasures, it remains vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

In good news though, there's some amazing work happening right here on these impressive landscapes to help combat it.

G’Day, Ernie Dingo here.

I want to share with you a story of how fire management across the top half of Australia is helping to reduce emissions, benefit community and businesses and help the environment.

Robin Dann, Wunggurr Ranger, Western Australia: That fire has been part of our life since the beginning of time. We probably invented fire. Healthy Country, healthy people, and fire played a big part in that.

Ernie Dingo: Embedded in the culture and in the land, traditional fire management has been more recently reinvigorated with the support of the Australian Government's Emissions Reduction Fund.

The Fund supports farmers, Indigenous Australians and other businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Alfred Rickson, Mimal Ranger, Northern Territory: It's a ways of burning country so we'll have green grass to grow again, and it's more like burning a bit earlier than having late fire.

Ernie Dingo: Our country is better looked after when savanna fire management projects are underway. These projects restore the similar fire regime that was used for tens of thousands of years by Indigenous Australians. These projects are creating healthier ecosystems with benefits for plants and animals.

Mali Djarrbal, Arafura Swamp Ranger, Northern Territory: We’ve seen all the tracks for wallabies. Big kangaroo and the small one, they just came back when we had a fire.

Otto Campion, Arafura Swamp Ranger, Northern Territory: All our old people, they were telling this story about you do right-way fire, you will get good rain, animal will come back, a lot of good flower, good honey.

Ernie Dingo: Savanna fire management reduces emissions by reducing frequency and extent of destructive late dry season wildfires. These huge wildfires are bad for the climate, damaging our atmosphere.

This story of savanna fire management isn't a new one. These techniques have been used for tens of thousands of years, but it's the right-way fire mob who's been combining modern science and traditional knowledge to build an industry and make a big difference in our country. Projects are generating income by selling carbon credits to the government and businesses.

With the extra income, project participants are able to spend money on more important projects to look after their community and country.

Joyce Bohme, Djelk Ranger, Northern Territory: It brings in more opportunities, more jobs for local people and our people as well, so that, you know, people can continue what we're doing today, is keep on looking after the land and our Country.

Otto Campion: We're using helicopter because we're earning good income from our carbon program. And the money that we bring from carbon, we distribute to the community and we get rangers and TOs more salary, and getting more equipment.

Andrew Parker, Qantas – Group Executive: Every 59 seconds our passengers are offsetting their flights and one of their big passions and demands is Indigenous and Australian projects in our own backyard and that's why the savanna projects in northern Australia are really important.

Otto Campion: Fire was there for many reason. Cleaning up Country, cleaning spirit so that family can go back and use that Country. Paying respect for the Country.

Andrew Parker: And I think the savanna projects really resonate for a couple of reasons. One is they're highly credible and tested by the Australian Government. Two is, it is northern Australia, so a critical part of Australian geography. But also, I think the Indigenous element is perhaps the most important, in, it's not only a tested and credible project, but it is more holistic in giving back to Indigenous communities. There's cultural elements to it, as well as obviously the carbon offsetting element.

Otto Campion: We've got that fire, it brings life. And them old people, they say you do right-way fire you get 'em good fish, you get 'em good rain, you get 'em...Country, him reward you.

Andrew Parker: The science is proved, and I think with more projects becoming available, we would love to source more from this part of Australia.

Joyce Bohme: Being a woman ranger is just great. You get to go around and see a lot of other places and you know what's happening on their land and they know what's happening on our land.

Tarlisha Redford, Mimal Ranger, Northern Territory: Being a ranger is my dream job and it's really great. Taking kids around Country and learning about culture and stuff.

Gladys Womati Malibirr, Arafura Swamp Ranger, Northern Territory: Carbon farming is good for us cause we have ranger job.

Neil Waina, Uunguu Ranger, Western Australia: Wunambal Gaambera has our rangers, it's good for, like to get people back out on Country, to keep their Country strong and healthy.

Alfred Rickson: Well it helps to employ more young people, and then you know it helps us to buy more equipment.

Robin Dann: Saving the planet, making money, but something we've been doing for centuries.

Otto Campion: Our ancestors have been using fire for hunting, gathering, even using fire for getting right-way married. So fire, it's a big stuff for us.

Ernie Dingo: Savanna fire mob have been combining modern science and traditional knowledge to build an industry and make a big difference in our country, people and climate. That really excites me.