Kimberley Aboriginal people are using their cultural values and land management skills to develop sustainable businesses that stimulate economic growth in remote Indigenous communities, ignite social change and enrich ecological biodiversity.
A cultural enterprise economy is founded on the core principle of looking after country and protecting Indigenous cultural values.
In the Kimberley, we are using the cultural enterprise economy to put Indigenous people in a strong position to manage their native title lands and achieve positive outcomes when negotiating across their country.
Cultural enterprise economies are based on four pillars: recognition, cultural governance, sustainable enterprise and conservation.
Recognition and respect for Indigenous culture, rights and title
Development of strong Indigenous cultural governance models for decision-making and guidance
Increasing meaningful employment opportunities to generate income and wealth in communities through sustainable enterprises
Conserving and restoring the environment
In the cultural enterprise economy, Indigenous culture and knowledge does not conflict with modern economic principals but complements and enhances business development opportunities.
This model, while empowering Aboriginal people to manage their country, is also proving to be a solution to reduce entrenched socio-economic disadvantage and welfare dependence, political marginalisation and poverty.
Kimberley Aboriginal people are successfully implementing and operating cultural enterprises including environmental management services, carbon abatement businesses, Indigenous Protected Areas, research projects, data recording and management and cultural immersion experiences.
Savanna Burning Carbon Projects
Kimberley Aboriginal people are using fire management to develop carbon businesses.
Indigenous fire management under the Carbon Farming Initiative presents a win-win opportunity for Kimberley Aboriginal people – a sustainable means of looking after their country and cultural values and real progress towards achieving economic independence and improving livelihoods from native title property rights.
North Kimberley native title groups have registered fire management projects under the Carbon Farming Initiative as part of the North Kimberley Fire Abatement Project.
Kimberley fire management projects use Indigenous traditional knowledge and modern scientific practices to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere from unmanaged and potentially dangerous wildfires.
Through using this fire management technique to conduct early dry season burns, there is a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere. This abatement is measured and the carbon credits generated can be sold to industry or large emitters of greenhouse gasses. Indigenous management of fire is therefore a valuable commodity, saleable in today’s carbon market.
The four north Kimberley native title groups Dambimangari, Wilinggin, Uunguu and Balanggarra have been involved in the North Kimberley Fire Abatement Project for the past eight years. Dambimangari, Wilinggin and Uunguu run their fire operations connected to the carbon project independent of the KLC.
In early 2014, they were the first Indigenous groups in Australia to register carbon businesses across their exclusive possession native title lands, signalling a new era for income generation in remote communities.
North Kimberley native title groups generated about 230,000 Kyoto Australia Carbon Credit Units through undertaking fire management projects in the past two years. The sale of carbon crdits will provide the north Kimberley communities with the economic boost needed to continue to undertake fire management into the future and to establish other commercial businesses.
The carbon abatement project is also delivering social and environmental outcomes through improved biodiversity and landscape health, reinvigorating social and cultural traditions, strengthening climate change adaptability, reversing socioeconomic disadvantage and increasing employment opportunities.
The KLC has been working with native title groups who do not already have carbon projects to see if it is worthwhile doing savanna burning carbon projects. There is a lot of work involved in doing a carbon project, and it is important to look at all the costs and all the benefits before deciding whether it is a good enterprise opportunity. The Feasibility Report provides guidance on the things you need to know before doing a carbon project. You can download it here.
Kimberley Aboriginal people are implementing innovative and practical solutions to help them resist, survive and adapt to the global threat of climate change.
Climate change stands to be one of the biggest global threats to the survival of Indigenous people in modern times. Indigenous people are more likely to be significantly affected by climate change impacts due to their dependence on and interconnected relationship with the natural environment. The lower socio-economic circumstances of Indigenous people make it more difficult for them to adapt to and respond to climate change.
In the desert region of the Kimberley, the intimate knowledge the Ngurrara people have of their country has been telling them that the seasonal indicators of their native title lands are changing. The vital water sources of the desert region have been drying up while the times when plants bloom, animals breed and fruits ripen have shifted from traditional patterns. With a responsibility and mandate to protect their community and diverse ecosystems, the Ngurrara people are proactively managing climate change impacts through the development of a seasonal database to analyse weather patterns and climate change data.
Scientific information and traditional ecological knowledge is interconnected and stored on the database which is used to provide detailed reports and comparative analysis about changes to country and inform adaptation strategies. This research tool is also being used to assist Indigenous land managers make informed decisions about the best seasonal times to conduct on-ground natural resource and conservation activities.