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

Trip to Oriners Station

My first trip to Oriners Pastoral Lease coincided with a meeting of the Yam Aboriginal Corporation Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council and the Kowanyama Land Office Rangers; discussing the future of the Oriners and Sefton Carbon Project. I had heard many times before how Oriners and Sefton had been purchased by the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council in the early 1990’s as an investment on behalf of the people of Kowanyama. So, when the opportunity presented to travel to the property I was more than keen to have a travel out into the wilds of Cape York to see for myself.

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Located in central Cape York, the Oriners property is a land of lagoons and water holes that stream with life, fish, crocs and birds. The country is looking healthy though dry as a result of cool burning techniques during the earlier part of the year and very little rain during that period. The dirt roads are starting to get dust potholes.

The Aboriginal Carbon Fund have been assisting the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council and the Land Office since 2014 to run a carbon project on Oriners and Sefton in cooperation with the traditional owner group. This has brought in a regime of cool savanna country burns during the early part of the year to reduce the potential risk and output from major hot fires latter in the year.

The meeting I attended on Oriners discussed the future of the carbon project to develop clear understanding between the Traditional Owners who were represented through the Yam Aboriginal Corporation; the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council and my self-representing the Aboriginal Carbon Fund.

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The meeting had agreed that having a sound financial plan was important particularly for investing back into the infrastructure on Oriners, so the Rangers have good work area with facilities and access to equipment, so they can function despite the remoteness.

The Kowanyama Rangers are well trained and experience to work in this region and they know what is required to adequately do their jobs.  I’m looking forward to my next trip traveling to Oriners during the 2018 dry season to participate in the Carbon reduction cool burns and to learn more from the Rangers about burning and this beautiful landscape.

by Barry Hunter Monday, 23 October 2017

Aboriginal Carbon Fund and our Partnerships

The Aboriginal Carbon Fund (AbCF) is fully staffed by Aboriginal people and we cultivate positive working relationships with a range of associates and project partners. This way of working to achieve Indigenous empowerment is refreshing in Aboriginal Australia. It has led to the development of the Indigenous-to-Indigenous strategy to verify cultural, social and environmental core benefits of carbon projects using a strength based approach by Aboriginal rangers and Traditional Owners. 
Sustainable, Aboriginal led economic prospects are rare across northern Australia.  

Aboriginal carbon farming is a new industry and the AbCF won a tender from the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to foster the development of the industry which includes the following key components: 
 

 Relationships Diagram

Relationships Diagram

• The establishment of a carbon investment fund with guidance from Baker & McKenzie law firm will enable the direct purchase of carbon credits from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal carbon farmers for a premium with cultural, social and environmental verified core benefits. What sets this fund apart is the opportunity for inter-generational wealth creation. That is rangers and Traditional Owners should still be able to accrue a benefit in 50 years’ time not just on a spot trade. 
 
It is proposed to have three classes of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU) as follows; 
 
- Ochre carbon: ACCU + verified cultural, social and environmental core benefits,

- Black carbon: ACCU + verified social and environmental core benefits,

- Gold carbon: ACCU + verified environmental core benefits. 
 
A national consultation process on the investment fund concept by independent consultants was funded by the Indigenous Land Corporation and fund design workshops are taking place. It is a work in progress and a farmer co-op model is envisaged with broad industry representation. We are open to great ideas! 
 

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• The core benefits verification approach acknowledges Aboriginal people as the experts in the indigenous-to-indigenous strategy. The verification framework for the cultural, social and environmental core benefits is being developed in partnership with Caritas Australia who have a wealth of international experience.  
 
Almost all Aboriginal carbon projects have numerous cultural, social and environmental core benefits that can be proven as real, measurable and verifiable. This work can and should be undertaken by Aboriginal rangers and Traditional Owners as it will utilise their skill set and add value to their carbon credits in the voluntary market. 
 
A community reference group is established (join in if interested), numerous presentations given at industry forums and a wide-ranging peer review process providing great feedback. First Nations in British Colombia and Maori groups in New Zealand are also interested in the indigenous-to-indigenous strategy as it does not rely upon external non-Indigenous people.  

 
• The establishment of a new 5-day training course in Aboriginal carbon farming through the Centre for Appropriate Technology Ltd (another Aboriginal organisation).

Many Aboriginal rangers and Traditional Owners involved in savanna burning on their traditional land want a greater understanding of the carbon industry. This training will enable a greater understanding of the industry tools, markets as well as how to independently verify core benefits. This may involve qualitative measures such as ‘pride’ and/or quantitative measures to verify Traditional Owners are employment as rangers. Good video recording techniques to present local stories of working on country will also be taught.  

Regional Aboriginal organisations can and should be the hub for training in carbon farming of Aboriginal rangers and Traditional Owners.  
 
An Industry Reference Group is established and 20 letters of support provided by Aboriginal organisations, corporate buyers and industry groups for accreditation purposes.

An EOI to pilot the training course in northern Australia has been released, so if interested please be in contact.    

• The establishment of a marketing and social media strategy around carbon farming on Aboriginal lands through working with Essential Media. We still have a long way to go in promoting this new industry to corporate Australia as a means for them to achieve their UN Sustainable Development Goals, Reconciliation Action Plans and Corporate Social Responsibility goals.  
 
Another challenge identified by the AbCF is to encourage all Australian Catholic Schools to be carbon neutral by 2025. We have a warm spirit, the experience and welcome all collaboration to achieve this climate justice endeavour!  
 
The thing that has struck me most living and working in the Northern Territory is how community development approaches in Aboriginal communities are still straight out of the 1950s and lagging behind the empowerment discourse that Indigenous people are exposed to in the international development sector.  
Nevertheless, community development through sustainable carbon farming on Aboriginal lands is now a small fire which will continue to grow and be a useful tool in the right hands.  
 

Aboriginal Carbon Farming
Savanna burning is the right people, burning the right country, in the right way. 
Core benefits is the right people, asking the right questions, in the right way. 
Our work, our jobs, our country…our future! 

AbCF Community Development Officer visits Caritas Australia in Sydney

Whilst I was in Sydney I was asked to visit the Caritas Australia office to give a brief and informal presentation on the work that Caritas has been working on with the Aboriginal Carbon Fund.

It wasn’t a huge group but I feel that only added to the overall feeling of acceptance and understanding in the room.

 AbCF Community Development Officer Lauren Bowyer meeting with Carl, Lisa and Patrice at the Caritas Australia Sydney office.

AbCF Community Development Officer Lauren Bowyer meeting with Carl, Lisa and Patrice at the Caritas Australia Sydney office.

I was asked to speak about myself and what lead me to joining the AbCF team, I spoke about my connection to country and my unwavering belief in my culture.

As with all AbCF presentations that I have been a part of or facilitated, you can’t help but notice a look of confusion on the faces of those in the room in the beginning, however after a few moments into the presentation you can almost pinpoint the moment when the penny drops and people understand and support the important and ground breaking work we are doing here at the Aboriginal Carbon Fund and in this instance it allowed the wider group of Caritas Australia staff to further understand the importance of the work their fellow team mates Lisa and Carl have been working on and why it has been so important to have them on board.

I feel I had made a positive impression on the staff at Caritas and look forward to meeting up with some of them in December when the AbCF team travel down for the Catholic Youth Festival in Sydney.

A huge thanks to Carl and Lisa for all of their tireless efforts to ensure the work that we do is of the upmost quality, you have both been an amazing asset to have on board.

Lauren