Burketown Aboriginal Ranger Forum in Burketown 2018

Having just attended the Aboriginal Ranger Forum, hosted by Carpentaria Land Council (CLC) in Burketown, I am pleased to be able to report that it is plainly evident that Aboriginal Rangers value community collaboration and partnerships very highly.

 Carpentaria Land Council (CLC) hosted the 2018 Aboriginal Ranger Forum in Burketown

Carpentaria Land Council (CLC) hosted the 2018 Aboriginal Ranger Forum in Burketown

The Burketown Forum gave approximately three hundred Rangers from a wide and diverse area to come together and share experiences, stories and training.

 a handful of the Aboriginal Rangers who attended the forum

a handful of the Aboriginal Rangers who attended the forum

Alongside this it gave Rangers the opportunity to see old friends and family members, which is often difficult due to the long distances and lack of funding.

 Aboriginal Rangers enjoying some downtime playing a game of footy and catching up with family and friends

Aboriginal Rangers enjoying some downtime playing a game of footy and catching up with family and friends

Any opportunity for Rangers to work together and share knowledge should, therefore, be seen as not only beneficial to country, but also improving social outcomes and community well-being.

 Senator Nigel Scullion addresses forum

Senator Nigel Scullion addresses forum

Blog written by Mark Gasson (Fund Manager - Reducing Carbon Building Communities Fund)

National Australia Bank team visit Kowanyama Cape York with the AbCF & RCBC Fund team

The relationship with National Australia Bank (NAB) is going from strength to strength, and alongside a recent large ACCU purchase, they have committed to purchasing ACCU’s from the Kowanyama Savannah Burning Project for the next three years.

 

 The NAB Team with Barry (AbCF) & Mark (RCBC) before departure to Cape York

The NAB Team with Barry (AbCF) & Mark (RCBC) before departure to Cape York

Mark Gasson RCBC Fund Manager and Barry Hunter, AbCF Regional Manager, took five NAB guests to visit one of the sites generating the ACCU, Oriners, where we were greeted by the Mayor of Kowanyama and a host of rangers. We were all given a traditional Welcome by the Mayor, followed by a tour of the site and overview of the project. We then went and explored some of the far reaches of the project with the rangers, including Horseshoe Lake.

 The NAB Team with Kowanyama Mayor Michael Yam at Oriners Station

The NAB Team with Kowanyama Mayor Michael Yam at Oriners Station

We returned to Hann River Roadhouse for the night before heading back to Oriners and then on the Kowanyama, where after issues with the ute along the way and a tow into town from the rangers, we arrived to be given an overview of the carbon projects and an insight into how this is impacting positively on the community, creating both an income to the Council as well as employment for rangers.

It was a fantastic trip, a great opportunity to consolidate relationships both with the Kowanyama community and our NAB partners and crucially to bring the two parties together. As the contract with NAB is now on-going, this is a trip that we’d all like to repeat next year with different NAB employees.

Since returning from the trip, the AbCF has been approached by NAB and asked if we are willing to be featured as one of NAB’s twelve Corporate Responsibility Partners in a new advertising campaign that NAB are launching. This is an excellent way to profile our work and increase public awareness and a good indicator that we are a trusted and valued organisation.

 Horseshoe Lake, Kowanyama

Horseshoe Lake, Kowanyama

Palaszczuk Government to offset vehicle pollution with carbon projects

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Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts - The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

 

The Palaszczuk Government will offset the emissions from its fleet of vehicles with carbon credits from Aboriginal carbon farming projects, reducing the state’s contribution to climate change and increasing opportunities for Traditional Owners.

The Government, through the $8.4 million CarbonPlus Fund, will pay a premium price for high-quality carbon credits generated by savanna burning and other Aboriginal-run projects in Queensland to offset its vehicle emissions from the 2017-2018 financial year.

Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said the initiative would see Traditional Owners receiving a financial return for caring for Country.

“By offsetting our vehicle emissions with Aboriginal carbon credits, we are not only helping to grow the state’s carbon farming industry but also providing social and cultural co-benefits to Queensland communities,” Minister Enoch said.

“This will help create jobs for Traditional Owners to manage fire regimes, and boost participation in the emerging carbon farming industry.”

The Queensland Government has contracted two service providers – Corporate Carbon Advisory Pty Ltd and the Aboriginal Carbon Fund to deliver 115,000 Australian Carbon Credit Units. 

CEO of the Aboriginal Carbon Fund Rowan Foley said the initiative would create new opportunities for ranger groups and Traditional Owners in Queensland.

“The carbon economies emerging on Aboriginal lands will enable sustainable income for local rangers and Traditional Owners, ensuring that the environment is well managed and helping the government to offset its carbon footprint,” Mr Foley said.

Potentially worth up of $8 billion to Queensland by 2030, carbon farming involves the management of vegetation, land, animals, soil and fire, to store carbon and avoid the release of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Embracing the solutions to climate change can be a positive thing for Queensland and we need to start carving our place in the emerging zero carbon global economy,” Minister Enoch said.

“These solutions will in many cases lead to more jobs, more prospects for Queensland businesses, and safer and happier communities, as long as we position ourselves to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Rowan Foley's Postcard from Edinburgh

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The World Symposium on Social Responsibility and Sustainability was hosted by Edinburgh University, and all papers will be published. I gave a paper on the Core Benefits Standard for environmental, social and cultural values. It was well received however, it is self-evident Indigenous people and lands are not a priority in Europe. To pretend otherwise is foolhardy. To think any international standard devised by the former colonisers has our best interests at heart is as realistic as Harry Potter.

In going to Scotland, and also visiting Ireland and Wales, I was very impressed by their formal bilingual programs. It gave the feeling that their experience of colonisation was not entirely positive and they valued All signage is in their native tongue as well as English.

European priorities are their own economies, immigration from former colonies and matters much closer to home. Post colonial attempts to engage with colonised people is simply that, the reality is they have nothing better to offer than we can’t do for ourselves.

To misquote Oscar Wilde ‘life is too important to take (them) seriously’

The Scots, Welsh and Gaelic assert their own language, culture and socio-economic priorities through formal and informal channels. All people who have a love of freedom and their own customs view the colonisers legislation, policies and standards with increasing scepticism. When you analyse what’s actually being offered it soon becomes apparent the empire has no clothes.

The old slave trading nations have always acted with a natural self interest. Trump and Brexit are simply public examples of this in the modern era.

It’s best to forge a new path ahead with the Core Benefits Standard, mindful there are many supportive people of good will. 

Rowan Foley

Queensland Carbon Farming Industry Forum - Brisbane 2018

The Queensland Carbon Farming Industry Forum took place in Brisbane last month with an aim to share ideas about the future of the industry and how things have changed in the previous twelve months. It was a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces, meet new colleagues in the field and open up new avenues for learning, trading, the sharing of ideas and increasing industry understanding.

The Forum was hosted by our good friends at the Carbon Market Institute (CMI) and aimed to explain what the carbon farming industry does, how it does it, who benefits and where our industry is heading.

Peter Castellas, CEO of CMI kicked off and gave an excellent overview of where the industry currently stands. Many changes have taken place since last year, and this has created new opportunities and new challenges. Australia aims to have a net zero emissions trajectory by 2030, so there’s much to be done to get there, but it’ll create a more significant industry with many more employment opportunities. Good news for the Aboriginal Carbon Fund because it means there’ll be more opportunities for Aboriginal Rangers to be trained through our new, nationally accredited Ranger Training Cert II. This will lead to an increase in Aboriginal employment and intergenerational wealth creation.

The Honourable Leeanne Enoch, Minister for the Environment and Great Barrier Reef, Qld Government gave an insightful presentation regarding the Government’s aims and outcomes illustrating that both ministers and the Government are taking the issues of air pollution, sea temperature increase and rising sea levels seriously. This was well received by everyone in the room and showed the outstanding commitment the current Government is showing the industry and the AbCF.

Fiona Simpson, President of the National Farmers’ Association, gave an encouraging presentation regarding the work of farmers and their increasing acceptance of carbon farming either as a sole means of income or as a supplement to their current operations. As the Fund Manager of the Reducing Carbon Building Communities Fund (RCBC), I will be following up with a view to securing continuous supplies of Carbon Credits (ACCU) in the future.

Tony Roberts, Deputy Director General of the Department of Environment and Science, gave a fantastic overview of the $500 million Land Restoration Fund and how it’s going to impact on the environment and the industry.

As a key stakeholder and project developer, I talked about the newly launched RCBC Fund and explained the functions of the Fund, its capacity for job and wealth creation, the core benefits for the environment and Aboriginal Communities and its rapid increase in size. There’s a great deal of industry interest in the Fund because of its capacity to provide so many benefits in the future.

Jeremy Dore of Climate Friendly and Luke Scott from the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) kindly contributed their expertise to the Forum, delivering presentations and participating in the following discussions. It’s evident that the core benefits the fund offers are unique and beneficial in a multiplicity of ways. This led to a number of interested parties contacting me after the Forum to pursue the sale and purchase of ACCU’s.

To round off the first day the CMI launched the Australian Carbon Industry Code of Conduct, to which the Aboriginal Carbon Fund is an early signatory. Check out CEO Rowan Foley’s quote on the Code of Conduct page to find out more.

The launch was a key moment because it shows how seriously the leading industry players take their role and how the industry has matured in a short period. I’m proud to be a signatory and to uphold the values and ethics of the Code of Conduct and look forward to it becoming the industry standard.

The second day of the Forum started with what was probably one of the most prominent events in the Carbon Calendar - the launch of the ‘Native Title, Legal Right and Eligible Interest Holder Consent Guide hosted by David Parker, Chair of the Clean Energy Regulator. As the AbCF had a significant role in the inception and ideas behind the Guide, it was rewarding to be recognised for our work at the cutting edge of the industry. The Guide will give Aboriginal People and Traditional Owners far greater capacity to control their destiny which is good news for everyone at AbCF and on country.

The Forum concluded with a discussion around where the industry is going and the challenges we face. Indeed, there’s much to be excited about as the industry grows, but with growth comes financial and ethical concerns. At AbCF we pride ourselves on remembering that we do what we do to benefit communities, and this will remain at the forefront of my mind as I expand the size and reach of the fund.

I’d like to thank everyone who attended the Forum for their dedication and time, to give thanks to CMI for hosting another great event and to CER for all their excellent work. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to give me a call.

Mark Gasson

Fund Manager – Reducing Carbon Building Communities Fund

Cairns Office: (07) 4031 7756

Mobile: 0423 926 060

Email: mark@rcbcfund.com

Aboriginal Carbon Fund attend Native Title Conference 2018 in Broome

The Native Title conference 2018 was a fabulous experience. Inspiring presentations, amazing food, fabulous Cable beach venue and a great dinner party.  Being back in the Kimberley after working for the KLC from 1995-99 was a great chance to catch up with many old comrades and swap yarns. The Land & Sea Management Unit is going from strength to strength with many talented rangers doing a great job looking after country and carbon farming.

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Lisa McMurray and I gave our presentation on the Indigenous to Indigenous approach to the verification of environmental, social and cultural values in the Indigenous Knowledge session. There were many people interested in the strengths based approach and paid work for rangers that values their experience. The Community of Practise is gaining new members who see a strengths based approach has considerable value and want to make a positive contribution.  I also chaired the Joint Land Management session which had three great presentations from the Kimberley, Victoria and Far North Queensland.

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We were highly impressed by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC) presentation on their Yiriman project.  So genuine and from the heart, a community struggling with their young kids going of the rails.  However the solution to this problem has been culture and teaching the kids the old songlines.  And no surprises, but quite explicitly they are using a strength based approach.

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We took the opportunity to meet with the Kimberley TAFE who are keen to lead the Carbon Farming training course for rangers and Traditional Owners.

 

We are now busy following up the many friends and contacts we made at the Native Title conference.

Carbon Farming Training Pilot in Mapoon

The Aboriginal Carbon Fund (AbCF) along with Caritas Australia and the Centre for Appropriate Technology Ltd (CfAT) were in the beautiful Cape York community of Mapoon last week to roll out the Pilot Carbon Farming training program with the Mapoon Land and Sea Rangers.

 Mapoon Land & Sea Ranger Lee Ase taking the lead on one of the Core Benefits activities.

Mapoon Land & Sea Ranger Lee Ase taking the lead on one of the Core Benefits activities.

The week started off on a real high with all of the Rangers taking a great interest in the Savanna Burning Methodology, the Indigenous to Indigenous Strategy and the idea that those who wish to “spread their wings” and become a Project Verifier (which would be another feather in their hat as an Indigenous Ranger) could potentially allow them to travel to other communities within the Cape York, the top end of the Northern Territory and the Kimberley regions to verify other Indigenous Carbon Farming projects’ Core Benefits and share knowledge and practises with other Indigenous communities and/or Ranger groups.

 Rangers Jocelyn, Lawrie, Sarah and Geraldine participating in the Core Benefits activities.

Rangers Jocelyn, Lawrie, Sarah and Geraldine participating in the Core Benefits activities.

It was great to see that all the Rangers were willing to participate and be actively involved in the decision-making processes which would allow the AbCF and CfAT to fine tune the Carbon Farming course before it is rolled out across the board as an accredited training program.

 Rangers Jocelyn and Douglas drawing their Core Benefits tree.

Rangers Jocelyn and Douglas drawing their Core Benefits tree.

During the sessions Rangers learnt how to use the online tools NAFI (Northern Australian Fire Information) and SavBAT3 (Savana Burning Abatement Tool) to calculate how many Carbon Credits their Carbon Farming project could potentially generate, as well as how to properly measure, record and store data which will verify their Core Benefits for the project.

A highlight of the week was when the Rangers had a go at recording themselves and their work colleagues in mock interviews on camera, some of the footage captured was pure gold and showed just how much raw talent and knowledge this group of Cape York Indigenous Rangers have.

 Rangers Lee, Edwin & Craig participating in the Interview techniques activity by filming mock interviews.

Rangers Lee, Edwin & Craig participating in the Interview techniques activity by filming mock interviews.

The Aboriginal Carbon Fund and our partners Caritas Australia and The Centre for Appropriate Technologies Ltd would like to take this opportunity to thank the Old Mapoon Aboriginal Corporation, the Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council and The Mapoon Land and Sea Rangers for having us on country and allowing us to deliver our pilot training program.

Aboriginal Carbon Fund meets with Cook Shire Council

Recently Cook Shire Council had requested a meeting with me to talk to them about what Aboriginal Carbon Farming is & how it could benefit the Aboriginal communities within the Cook Shire region.

I met with Mayor Peter Scott, CEO Timothy Cronin, Councillor John ‘Chook’ Giese and Councillor Larissa Hale to talk about how the Aboriginal Carbon Fund has been assisting Aboriginal communities across the top end of Australia.

 Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott, Councillor Larissa Hale, Cook Shire CEO Tim Cronin with AbCF Community Development Officer Lauren Bowyer

Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott, Councillor Larissa Hale, Cook Shire CEO Tim Cronin with AbCF Community Development Officer Lauren Bowyer

Mayor Scott was very intrigued with the whole concept of Aboriginal Carbon Farming and showed genuine interest in the idea of Aboriginal people regaining management of their traditional estates and being able to return to traditional burning practises.

Mayor Scott also mentioned that he feels that this could be the answer to help Cook Shire in their Closing the Gap efforts by supporting and encouraging Indigenous-led land management within the Cook region.

All in all, I would say that Cook Shire are not only in support of the work that Aboriginal Carbon Fund is doing, but I must say that I felt a sense of excitement for the unique possibilities that carbon farming could bring to Aboriginal Communities within the Cook Shire region.

I also attended a Cape York Traditional Owner meeting in Cairns which was facilitated by Cape York Land Council.

The purpose of the meeting was to give Cape York Traditional Owner’s a voice on how future business for Cape York Land Council and their respective communities should look.

As a Cape York Traditional Owner, it was refreshing to see that the majority of the group was on the same page and were looking for positive solutions to ongoing issues.

One of the topics that was discussed was the need to find a source of income for each community/clan group that can assist them to move forward and hopefully to break the chains of funding dependency.

I was there representing my clan group as well as the Aboriginal Carbon Fund, so I took the opportunity to mention the unique possibilities that carbon farming could potentially have on the communities in Cape York.

Overall, I feel that this information was welcomed by all and I have offered to arrange meetings with groups should they wish to pursue carbon farming on their traditional estates.

Lauren