AbCF acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work and live and pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging and celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of all Communities. AbCF acknowledges, respects and honours Indigenous peoples vital role in caring for country in the past and stress the importance of this continued practice into the future.
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The Cultural Fire Credit has been developed through a collaboration between the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation (AbCF) and the Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation (Firesticks). The establishment of Cultural Fire Credit trading provides a solution and a way forward for Indigenous-led, sustainably financed Cultural Burning practices applied across Australia. In developing the Cultural Fire Credit, AbCF and Firesticks drew heavily on the research, insights, ideas, and collective thought and leadership of many individuals, organisations and First Nations communities, both from within our domestic network and internationally. More information below or visit the Catalyst Markets website.
The AbCF and Firesticks use the term ‘cultural burning’ to describe burning practices developed by Aboriginal people to enhance the health of the land and its people. Cultural burning can include burning, or prevention of burning of Country, for the health of particular plants (e.g. native grasses, black grevillea) or animals (e.g. emu, potoroo), bushfoods, threatened species, or biodiversity in general. It may involve patch burning to create different fire intervals across the landscape.
Fire may be used to gain better access to Country, to clean up important pathways, to maintain cultural responsibilities, and as part of cultural heritage management. It may be used as a ceremony to welcome people to Country or it could even be as simple as a campfire around which people gather to share, learn, or celebrate. Cultural burning practice is different from mainstream environmental land management approaches.
As above, Cultural Fire Credit is a collaboration between the AbCF and Firesticks. This partnership offers a unique blend of expertise and experience to deliver the innovative Cultural Fire Credit. The core motivation is cultural maintenance and revitalisation, because we understand that with cultural revitalisation comes important core-benefits – environmental, economic, social, and cultural.
The credits support Indigenous community led cultural fire programs, in addition to mentoring the next generation of Cultural Fire Practitioners to ensure the continuation of cultural knowledge and practices. So, when you invest in Cultural Fire Credits, you’re investing, supporting and helping to empower Indigenous communities to take the lead in caring for the health and wellbeing of the land.
With the devastating Australian wildfires of 2019 and 2020 still vivid in the memory, there is new respect for the acknowledgement for traditional land management practices, including burning. Indigenous communities in this country and around the world, have used traditional fire methods as an important tool in sustainable land management. These cultural burning traditions are part of a sophisticated Indigenous knowledge systems, that holds fire lore and controls its use and management.
The concept of a ‘fire credit’ originated from AbCF CEO Rowan Foley in response to the devastating 2019 bushfires. Foley has over a decade’s experience trading Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) in the voluntary market. The AbCF supports the development and trade of Community Credits and Farmer Credits, which are ACCUs with environmental, social, economic, and cultural corebenefits.
In the lead-up to Foley’s proposal of a fire credit, Dr Victor Steffensen and Dr Peta Standley of Firesticks had been working together for many years exploring potential independent income sources for communities with the aim of increasing community implementation of cultural fire on Country, developing the initial conceit for a Cultural Fire Credit in 2018.
Through personal and professional relationships developed over decades of working together on Indigenous knowledge empowerment and natural resource management sectors in northern Australia, the coming together of Firesticks and AbCF occurred organically and led to the Cultural Fire Credit Philosophy and Guidelines Manual.
From the partnership of these two Indigenous-led organisations, supported by financial and collaborative support from WWF Australia, the Cultural Fire Credit was born.
It is important to note that the Cultural Fire Credit is not controlled by the government or a conservation organisation; rather, it is Indigenous-led and -owned. The Cultural Fire Credit is different and distinct from carbon credits registered with the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator (CER), which controls the registration of carbon farming projects and issuance of ACCU.
There aren’t enough Indigenous Fire Practitioners across the country who hold the depth of knowledge needed to practice Traditional Indigenous Burning. It’s time to invest in a framework to support this learning to take place. Time to invest in Cultural Fire Credits.
The Cultural Fire Credits help to activate and prepare communities maintaining or activating cultural fire practice on country to:
There are two pathways available for people, companies, and government agencies to buy or invest in Cultural Fire Credits. Both pathways are processed in the same way, through the Catalyst Markets trading platform.
“There have been several recommendations from inquests into bushfires that formally state that cultural burning is relevant and is the best way to avoid tragedies. It is time to review the way we do land management and with the bushfires becoming such a threat to our lives and homes it’s time to rethink how we approach caring for Country now and to find ways to improve the way we interact with the land for the future of our young people … We know what we are supposed to do. We know what should happen but it is the resources that are missing and so we need people to invest in this.” — Rowan Foley (2021)
“We want to see more employment for all the Aboriginal people managing landscapes. We want to see traditional knowledge taught in schools. We want to see monitoring, collecting data and doing their own research to deliver Cultural fire to the World, proudly from Indigenous knowledge and proudly from the communities of Australia.” – Victor Steffensen (Firesticks Virtual Conference Report. 2021, P. 8)
The Cultural Fire Credit was officially launched in June 2022 at the Bunya Mountains in collaboration with The Bunya Peoples Corporation and many partner Indigenous communities and stakeholders.
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