Savanna burning is about reducing emissions from fire. Savanna fires release methane and nitrous oxide into the air, which are strong greenhouse gases. By burning in the early dry season when fires are cooler and patchy, and burning less country, there will be fewer emissions of these gases and an environmental benefit. Reducing fire emissions is a lot about applying traditional patchwork burning. Savanna burning is an emissions reduction project, not a carbon storage project like tree planting. It is an approved methodology already in practice, in several places across Northern Australia. Additional information below and in our Savannah Burning Explained document.
The first savanna project was approved by the Clean Energy Regulator in October 2012, the Fish River project in the Northern Territory. All up 22 savanna projects have been approved with Indigenous control or significant involvement.
In 2018, across Northern Australia, there were approximately 78 savanna burning projects, of which approximately one third were managed by Aboriginal ranger groups. 4,078,963 Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU) have been produced to date, with 70% of these ACCU being produced by Aboriginal savanna burning projects.
Many of these projects have won contracts under the government run Emissions Reduction Fund auctions, to deliver millions of credits over the next 10 years.
Spatial Information Systems Research Ltd received funding to develop the web-based Savanna Burning Abatement Tool version 2 (SavBAT2). SavBAT2 is ready to use and allows project owners to simplify use of the savanna methodology, in the same way that the Full Carbon Accounting Model (FullCAM) tool simplifies use of the environmental plantings method. In addition to fire scar data to develop project baselines, SavBAT2 also provides coarse vegetation layers which enables rough estimates of abatement potential on savanna landscapes. A very nifty tool that can be accessed online.
Savanna burning earns ‘Kyoto compliant’ carbon credits because the emissions from savanna burning count towards Australia’s national account under the Kyoto Protocol. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol covers 2013-2020.
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