Traditional owners light up carbon summit

We took the plunger again and sponsored the 2nd CMI Emissions Reduction Summit in Melbourne on 5-6 May 2015. Thankfully, a few northern traditional owners came along for the ride.

Rowan put in the hard yards to secure an Indigenous panel as part of the summit to try and put Aboriginal projects front and centre. Next he had to convince traditional owners to join in. It’s a long way from the backblocks of Australia in a Cessna Caravan to the glare of centre stage at the national carbon summit. But crews from Kowanyama and the Kimberley made it, fresh with their stories of success from 2014 and plans for 2015 and beyond.

Rowan softened the centre stage glare by introducing the session and emphasising how proud we should be about indigenous and non-indigenous people working together on these projects to combat climate change.

First up, Daniel Maddelena, senior ranger, and Fitzroy Lawrence, a ranger and Koko Menjen traditional owner, told the big story of building the Oriners and Sefton savanna burning project. Daniel recounted the lift up from the early days with a fledgling land office and no ranger crew to a professional fire operation grounded by a multi-year fire plans and all-seeing satellite data. Fitzroy told how the operation fitted in with traditional responsibilities to look after the land because the land owns us. Love the fire animations Daniel!

Next, Polly Grace, carbon and legal officer at the Kimberley Land Council, and Robin Dann, from Wilingin Aboriginal Corporation and Ngarin traditional owner for the Gibb River Station area, brought the Kimberley fire projects to life. Polly sketched the enormous scope of the Kimberley projects where traditional owners are leveraging their hard won native title to secure a healthy and sustainable future for their people. Robin told how they were following their ancestors but in a way that also provides income from carbon. And that’s a good thing I reckon says Robin. Did you know that 70% of WA’s savanna emissions come from Aboriginal land?

Amazing to see the crew up there doing it. They represented 5 of the 14 Indigenous savanna projects under the ERF looking after the north of Australia through fire. Hopefully we will see more projects come along and tell their story next year.