Cultural Conservation Economies: A new picture for Indigenous Livelihoods

Cultural Conservation Economies: A new picture for Indigenous Livelihoods

Nolan HUNTER (Australia)


This presentation will involve a power point presentation and short video, highlighting the opportunities for Indigenous people to draw on traditional knowledge to mitigate climate change impacts, through examining savanna burning projects in the North West Kimberley.  Globally fires emit nearly 8 Gt CO2e yr-1, 60% of which comes from fire in grasslands, savanna and dry woodland.  This is predicted to increase by between 5 and 35% by 2100.  Due to colonisation, most of these landscapes have supressed traditional fire management and as a result are poorly managed and degraded. In Australia, savanna burning projects use traditional knowledge and modern scientific practices to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere from unmanaged, potentially dangerous late season wildfires. This savanna fire management results in a reduction of total greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.  Savanna burning projects provide an opportunity for Indigenous people to engage in business opportunities that improve livelihoods and allow people to maintain and strengthen connection with country. In addition to carbon abatement, projects on Indigenous land deliver environmental benefits such as increased biodiversity, weed reduction and landscape linkages, and social benefits such as looking after cultural sites, strengthening connections with country and providing training and employment opportunities. Across Northern Australia, these projects have already abated over 1.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, while providing jobs, training, and supporting cultural aspirations for indigenous people. In the Kimberley region, credits from the project have been sold to airline Qantas, demonstrating the potential for carbon projects to create long-term community-corporate partnerships. The KLC has also been working with the United Nations University and the Australian Government on the International Savanna Fire Management Initiative, which demonstrates how reintroducing traditional fire management practices in fire dependant landscapes around the world offers many benefits, such as mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases, helping vulnerable and remote communities adapt to climate change, creating jobs, improving biodiversity, reinvigorating culture, improving food security and health. This discussion forum will give insight into the Australian experience and how it may be leveraged by Indigenous communities globally. Note we are requesting the presentation to form part of a broader panel launching Australia’s International Savanna Fire Management Initiative, which will provide the opportunity to hear how community-based savanna burning projects could be implemented in South East Asia, Southern Africa and Latin America. 



Nolan Hunter is the CEO of the Kimberley Land Council – a not-for-profit organisation that assists Aboriginal people to secure land rights. He is also the Chairman of the National Native Title Council and a member of the Western Australian State Government Kimberley Regional Planning Committee. The Kimberley Land Council, as the representative body of Kimberley Aboriginal people, works with Traditional Owners to look after country through conducting strategic conservation and land management activities while creating sustainable cultural enterprises to promote social change and build positive futures.  Mr Hunter is a Bardi man with strong links to his people and culture across saltwater country in northern Western Australia. In keeping with Aboriginal traditions, Mr Hunter has been taught by his senior elders the stories of, and knowledge about his people, language, law and culture. His expertise in traditional knowledge has been further advanced in his role as CEO of the KLC, which represents and brings together about 25 different Aboriginal tribal groups from across the region.  Mr Hunter has a professional background in strategic management and staffing operations and has more than 23 years of experience in this field and has worked extensively in Indigenous communities in Australia. Mr Hunter has worked with the Australian Consulate in Manchester, focusing on immigration and humanitarian programs as well as the Australian embassy in Vienna, Moscow, Edinburgh and Dublin. On returning to Australia, Mr Hunter has worked as the Director of several Indigenous organisations.

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