Fire and Carbon
Our Rangers and Traditional Owners carry out fire management every year – similar to how it’s been done for thousands of years, but now using helicopters and other ‘modern’ tools and equipment. We burn country early, with cool fire, creating fire scars that help stop wildfires later in the season when they burn hotter, for longer and over larger areas. By preventing late fire through early fire in this way, we protect our cultural sites, animals and plants.
Right-way fire not only protects country, but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions because early season fires create less smoke and greenhouse gas pollution. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere contribute to our climate getting hotter and more extreme (climate change). Right-way fire also stores more carbon in the landscape, because cool fires do not burn all the big logs and branches.
The Australian Government has made commitments to help limit climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon storage (carbon storage is also called carbon sequestration). This is why the Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund allows people and organisations to register projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or store carbon and be rewarded for this through “carbon credits” which can then be sold. One of the activities that can be registered as a carbon project is savanna fire management, meaning that the Government has created a way to earn carbon credits for shifting fire from late to early season and reduce fire frequency and extent in the way we are doing.
This is why our fire project is also registered as a carbon project – to look after country and help support Rangers and Traditional Owners to continue good burning, fund other ranger operations, get people out on country and create new opportunities. It was registered along with the other North Kimberley carbon projects: Dambimangari, Wunambal Gaambera, and Balanggarra. We all work together with the ‘North Kimberley Fire Abatement Project (NKFAP)’ Steering Committee to support each other, share knowledge and negotiate more strongly with external parties (such as carbon credit buyers).
The Wilinggin carbon project is formally owned by WWPBC, but day-to-day management is delegated to Wilinggin. Ngallagunda and Nyaliga Aboriginal Corporations also have similar carbon projects on their respective country within the Wilinggin determination. Every year, carbon credits are awarded by the Government for the greenhouse gas emissions that were prevented through our early season burning, compared to before the project started (1 credit for 1 tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent). The project earns different numbers of carbon credits every year depending on how much early season burning is done, how many late season fires there are and how big they get, how fire is distributed across the different types of vegetation, and some other factors. Some years are really difficult, and no carbon credits are earned. Our Directors have always emphasised that the main purpose of the project is to look after country and culture, do good fire management, get Wilinggin people on country and pass on traditional knowledge, protect and improve biodiversity, and make sure fire operations can continue into the future.
The Kimberley Land Council supports the administration of the current carbon projects, our collaboration with the NKFAP and burning operations on Karunjie and Durack Stations, while AWC support our burning operations over our partnership area, all of which is in line with our Healthy Country Plan.
If you have any questions about such carbon projects, there are some good resources here: