Carbon and co-benefits are part of the 10 Deserts Project’s (10DP) strategy to build alternative sustainable income streams for Indigenous land management in the desert, particularly for right-way fire management using both traditional and contemporary practices.
A carbon story for the deserts
The 10DP is committed to investigating the potential for generating carbon credits in the project area in a similar way that Indigenous organisations have been successful in northern Australia with savanna burning projects.
South Pole in conjunction with Natural Carbon was commissioned to undertake a feasibility study to address the Australian Government’s prioritisation criteria for method development under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). Work on the study was completed in early 2020 and a copy of the report, and key findings can be found here.
In response to the findings from the study, the project is:
- commissioning additional field and desk-based research to address key research gaps to support an extension of the savanna burning method below 600mm rainfall for areas with higher fire frequency. This will be of particular benefit to the northern Tanami and southern Kimberley mobs
- having ongoing discussions with the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory (NGGI) team to ensure that calculations and assumptions for emissions from the project area are based on the latest available data
- canvassing a direct investment model with the Australian Government where cool season fire management is funded and undertaken to reduce overall emissions from the project area (outside the regulatory arrangements of the ERF). An investment of $2–3 million per annum is estimate
In addition, the 10DP is investigating the opportunities for deriving income from co-benefits of fire management.
Co-benefits often refer to social, cultural and environmental benefits that are derived from land management activities associated with the generation of carbon credits and for which buyers are prepared to pay a premium or additional price. For Indigenous communities in Australia this generally relates to the use of cool season burning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Strategically though the 10DP seeks to flip the ‘carbon and co-benefits’ so that social, cultural and environmental benefits are seen to be the primary outcome (sometimes referred to as ‘core benefits’) and carbon credits, when generated, are the co-benefits.
These ‘core benefits’ may include payments for ecosystem services (PES) or new products such as healthy country credits which are aligned to national and international commitments such as the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Strategy and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In support of the above, the project is involved in the following:
- working with Accounting for Nature to develop a method to assess health of country using fire scar metrics monitored using satellite or aerial imagery
- integrating health of country assessments with social, cultural and economic benefits to create healthy country credits
- a biodiversity credits working group that is investigating the development of a marketplace for nature that would support the marketing and sale of innovative products such as healthy country credits. The working group is supported by the Pollination Foundation.
Carbon and co-benefits resources