The success of the Karlantijpa North Kurrawarra Nyura Mala Aboriginal Corporation at the fourth Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) auction will create seasonal jobs and help to mitigate climate change.

The new corporation of traditional owners of the Karlantijpa North Aboriginal Land Trust, near Elliott in the Northern Territory, has won a contract with the Commonwealth’s clean energy regulator to earn carbon credits in exchange for strategic burning of savannah country.

The Central Land Council is helping the custodians to develop their carbon business, the first such Aboriginal enterprise in its region, and to carry out financially sustainable fire management that meets safety, cultural and environmental needs.

“This early win is so encouraging for this emerging enterprise,” said CLC director David Ross.

“It allows Aboriginal people to burn their country in a controlled manner early in the dry season in order to reduce massive amounts of greenhouse gasses that large and dangerous wildfires later in the year would otherwise cause.”

This abatement is measured and sold to the Commonwealth who uses it to meet its international emissions reduction commitments.

“The corporation will be able to claim its dry season burn from April this year and expects to earn its first carbon credits next July,” Mr Ross said.

The carbon credits will pay for annual fire management of a 3000 square kilometre portion of the land trust, including seasonal employment of locals.

“When burning starts again, next dry season, a dozen Aboriginal people will be hired to work with our rangers from Daguragu and Tennant Creek, but the benefits don’t stop there,” he said.

“If our successful ranger program is any guide, there will be wider social and environmental outcomes, such as improved biodiversity and reinvigorated cultural traditions.

More sustained employment outcomes would be possible if the Commonwealth funded a ranger group at Elliott or Marlinja.”

The CLC has visited the area with the traditional owners for the past three years to burn country, carry out biological surveys, monitor weeds and visit significant sites.

Before it started to work with traditional owners the rarely visited remote area experienced frequent out-of-control bushfires late in the dry season that also affected neighbouring pastoral properties.

The CLC rangers will help the corporation to carry out burning activities on a cost recovery basis for the next five years. Other CLC staff will co-ordinate the project on behalf of the corporation while building its governance capacity.

The traditional owners jumped at the chance to set up a business when a new methodology for savannah burning made the northernmost area of their land trust eligible to bid at the ERF auction.