Carbon and Climate

Fire Management

KKT is partnering with the Adjumarllarl Rangers to establish a new savanna burning project area to the north-east of Kakadu National Park, which will have both environmental, economic and social benefits for the rangers, their community and country. 

This project will  provide an ongoing revenue stream to the Rangers, while abating between 26,000- 34,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2e) annually. 

Annually, more than 23 million hectares of savanna woodland is burnt across northern Australia, contributing to between 2 – 4% of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  The intensity of these fires varies according to when they take place.   Fires that occur earlier in the dry-season burn cooler (due to a higher water content in the fuel load) and are substantially less intense than fires that burn later in the season, which emit a much greater proportion of methane and nitrous oxide.  

Historically, Indigenous Australians would burn the landscape as part of their traditional cultural practices.   This burning, conducted in a patchwork fashion, took place in the early dry season, and resulted in the reduced frequency, intensity and extent of large scale, late season fires. After European colonisation, traditional fire management practices ceased – fire outbreaks, ignited by lightening, shifted to be much later in the dry season.   Through the re-implementation of a fire management regime that prioritises early season burning, the intensity and frequency of late season burning can be reduced, and consequently, so can GHG emissions. This reduction is significant – early season fires emit 52% less CO2e compared with late season fires.  

This reduction can be quantified through the creation of Australian Carbon Credit Units. Through brokering the sale of ACCUs through the government run Emission Reduction Fund or directly to private interests, income can be distrusted to cover the costs of fire abatement activities, and any funds in excess of these costs are reinvested back into ranger programs.  

Once established, this project area will result in a net annual decrease of CO2e from approximately 40,000 tonnes, to between 26,000 and 34,000 tonnes (a reduction of between 15% - 30%).  The ongoing financial sustainability of the project will be secured through the sale of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), generating an annual income stream of between $80,000 and $180,000.   This income would go carbon abatement activities and land management costs.   Any funds in excess of this would be re-invested back into the Ajdumarllarl ranger program.

Even at a low level of abatement and a low carbon price, the project is estimated to generate approx. $79k annually, in excess of the estimated marginal cost of running a formal abatement program. After the first full year of “establishment operations” it is expected that the programme can become self-funding (via sale of ACCUs) and therefore 100% self-sufficient.

This project is expected to be financially self-sufficient after the first year of operation.   As such, the initial once-off philanthropic support it receives will be the catalyst for ongoing CO2e emission reduction over many years, as well as securing an ongoing income stream for the Adjumarllarl ranger program.