Climate change

Savanna burning

The Karrkad Kanjdji Trust 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 planning to abate between 26,000- 34,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2e) annually. 

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 declined and fire outbreaks, ignited by lightning, shifted to be much later in the dry-season.

Fires that occur earlier in the dry-season burn cooler (due to a higher water content in the fuel load) than fires that burn later in the season. By shifting when burning takes place, the intensity of fires can be reduced, which also reduces the release of greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxides. These emissions account for between 2 and 4 per cent of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, with early season fires emitting 52 per cent less carbon dioxide equivalent compared with late season fires.

'Karriwulrhke mayhken, ba mandjewk kabolkdjuhkke wanjh kadalkdjordmerren mandalkkerrnge wanjh kabirridalkngun mayh.

Dja wanjh karriwurlhke kunumeleng ba bu karrinahnan kunbolk ba kamak rowk dja minj kabilikimukmen kurrung/kudjewk.’


‘We burn in the early dry-season so that when the rain comes, the soil will be more fertile and ready for the animals to eat.

We also burn in the early dry-season to protect the land from bad wildfires during the late dry-season.’

— Lorna and Suzannah Nabulwad

Across Northern Australia, more than 23 million hectares of savanna woodland burns every year. Indigenous rangers across Australia are reimplementing a fire management regime that prioritises early season burning, reducing the intensity and frequency of late season burning, and consequently reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This reduction in emissions can be quantified and sold through the Climate Solutions Fund (formally known as the Emissions Reduction Fund), a carbon market run by theAustralian Government, or alternatively on the voluntary market; ranger groups sell carbon credits for a financial return, helping fund the ranger programs themselves.

By reintroducing more traditional burning regimes that mitigate intense fires, there is also a positive effect on the flora and fauna of Arnhem Land. Fire management is an important aspect of protecting and restoring the landscapes ofNorthern Australia, with a strong connection to the people of Arnhem Land and their Country. Not only is the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust supporting the creation of a new carbon abatement area, but we are looking at ways to strengthen and preserve the ability for people to live on Country, to teach their children about this important aspect of their cultural heritage, and to perform ceremonial aspects of traditional fire management.

Adjumarllarl Rangers and ALFA (NT) Carbon Abatement Projects

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KKT is partnering with the Adjumarllarl Rangers and Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (NT) Limited to establish a new carbon abatement area. This project will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases being emitted from late dry-season fires, and in doing so create Australian carbon credit units. This has the potential to add a comparatively large source of revenue to an underfunded ranger group in charge of an ecologically important area of land.