Burning projects run by indigenous people are helping combat savanna wildfires. Photo: Glenn Campbell
An indigenous organisation could earn up to $500,000 a year by selling carbon credits it creates by deliberately burning savannas ahead of the fire season to reduce the amount of pollution.
The Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) has gained approval to generate the credits on its 1800 square kilometre Fish River property which is a two hour drive south of Darwin.
It's the first indigenous project approved under the carbon farming initiative (CFI) which forms part of the federal government's carbon price regime.
Under the CFI, grasslands can be purposely burnt early in the dry season to reduce fuel load and therefore the severity of late-season fires.
Savannas are also burnt to create fire breaks.
"Both actions reduce the high level of pollution that would otherwise be generated by out-of-control wild fires," parliamentary secretary Mark Dreyfus said in a statement on Friday.
The ILC will be able to generate up to 20,000 carbon credits each year. CFI credits are expected to sell for less than the current $23-a-tonne fixed price but Fish River could still earn close to $500,000 annually.
"The ILC's carbon credits can be sold to big polluting businesses that need to offset their carbon price liability," Mr Dreyfus said.
"The extra income will be used to help conserve the significant biodiversity of the Fish River property, support indigenous jobs and training and investigate other investment opportunities."
Historically around 70 per cent of the property would be burnt by uncontrolled fires each year.
But in recent years that's been cut to just three per cent by combining traditional knowledge with satellite tracking and mapping technology.
Carbon credits created under savanna-burning projects are Kyoto compliant and count towards Australia's national emission-reduction targets.