The United Nations University is working with the Australian Government to explore the transferability to developing countries of Australia’s savanna fire management abatement methodology and project experience.
Indigenous peoples have historically employed customary burning practices to manage the savanna regions of tropical northern Australia. In many cases these practices have ceased, resulting in hot and uncontrolled wild fires late in the annual dry season. Experience in northern Australia shows that strategic reintroduction of traditional patchwork burning early in the dry season can limit the scale and intensity of late dry season fires, reducing emissions of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
Savanna fire management in tropical north Australia is an approved offset methodology under Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative. It allows Indigenous communities and farmers to generate carbon credits, which can then be sold to Australian companies to offset their emissions. Through this methodology, Indigenous communities are reducing emissions and generating sustainable incomes through the Australian carbon market.
Australia’s savanna fire management projects have also demonstrated valuable co-benefits – improving biodiversity; community health; food and water security; reinvigorating cultural and social traditions; enhancing human capital; and strengthening capacity to adapt to climate change.
Preliminary studies have shown that the conditions necessary to establish projects of this kind when adapted to local conditions are available in regions with similar savanna landscapes and traditional management practices, including in Asia, Southern Africa and Latin America.
In the initial stages of this initiative, we are exploring the potential for approaches similar to Australia’s methodology and project experience in interested developing countries. We are also identifying potential pilot sites, in-country partners and implementation pathways.