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.
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers please be aware that content on this website may contain images, voices and or names of people who have passed away.

Lore of the Land AbCF Newsletter #1

CEO WELCOME – Welcome Everyone To LORE OF THE LAND, Our Inaugural Quarterly Newsletter!
I hope you and your mob enjoyed a safe, healthy and happy break wherever you are in our country. We came into 2024 with a planning retreat in Cairns, and clear intentions to empower First Nations mob around the country, as well as strengthen our connections with our Fijian and Timor-Leste comrades in the Indo-Pacific.

For our small but deadly team at AbCF, 2023 was a year of culture and innovation. Our team of four became five with a Communications Coordinator coming on board to promote and share all the amazing things we do and the mob we meet. It was also a busy year, with new project and investment opportunities developed and cultural connections being made and strengthened. We hosted two large-scale successful events on Palmerville Station Cape York, with a Timor-Leste delegation and the self-determining community development workshop.

These big events were very positive experience and highlighted our capacity to conduct this type of event with a wide range of Indigenous leaders. We discussed the impacts of settler-colonialism and particularly the problems-narrative’ that continues to justify external non-Indigenous stakeholders making decisions on behalf of Indigenous people. The conversations were hard, challenging and thought-provoking.

I visited Lockhart Community and met with Mangkuma Land Trust Chairperson, Chris Dean. We went out on country to undertake some cultural burns, with registrations for this project now complete and more work on the way. This beautiful country has enormous potential for carbon and allied projects to be developed.

AbCF met with NAILSMA and Firesticks Alliance to hold strategic discussions for the creation of an Indigenous Innovation Investment Fund. All three organisations agreed to proceed with the fund, with a final launch coming soon.

The flexibility of a small team located across three states meant that in 2023 we travelled to some of the most remote Aboriginal communities in the country, as well as forging relationships with other like-minded First Nations peoples around the world. We ended the year on a high with a strong presence at COP28 in Dubai and made some long-lasting global connections with others facing the same challenges we do.

2024 brings another strong year of working closely with mob near and far. In January I travelled to Fiji to sign an MOU with the First Nations Fiji Resources Foundation and contract with the Traditional Landowners. In March our team will travel back to Timor Leste to follow up on our close collaboration with the Timor Leste farmers and Government.

Of course, as a leading Indigenous empowerment organisation, our priority is, and always will be Mob. We continue to strengthen our relationships with First Nations peoples from the Kimberley, Western Australia to Western Yalanji lands of Cape York, and wherever else we are called to integrate traditional Aboriginal knowledge with cutting edge technology.

I hope our first edition of Lore of the Land inspires you to connect with us this year while providing a little insight into the myriad of ways we work with First Nations peoples to empower them to connect and heal country, utilise their existing knowledge and Lore and build and develop new ways to build healthy, wealthy community and mob. – Rowan Foley


We are pleased to announce that we recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The First Nation (Fiji) Resources Foundation (FNRF) and contract with the Traditional Landowners to collaborate on carbon farming -aligned with the Paris Agreement. The signing of the MOU by FNFRF Chairperson, Dr Akanisi Kedrayate and CEO Rowan Foley in Fiji’s capital, Suva signalled the start of a dynamic three-year collaboration between two leading First Nations change-makers.

The collaboration includes the exchange of best practices and knowledge on carbon market mechanisms. It also signals Fiji’s intent to collaborate on the voluntary carbon market to achieve emission targets set out in our development goals, while promoting sustainable development and environmental integrity.

Mr Foley welcomed the collaboration and said the partnership would go a long way towards growing an international appetite for high-integrity nature-based solutions.

“Achieving high integrity through nature-based solutions is increasingly the benchmark in the voluntary carbon market. Fiji is in an ideal position to show leadership throughout the Indo-Pacific region. This means the environmental, social and cultural values of Fiji can be further protected and investment achieved.”

Dr. Kedrayate said, “We are pleased to work with AbCF on this MoU to accelerate climate action. This agreement is an important milestone for both our countries in working together to meet our respective climate targets. We hope that it will spur climate investments, enable innovation but most importantly for the First Nation (Resources) Foundation, ensure that all our AbCF dealings are beneficial, equitable and just to our natural resource owners.”

Following on from the official MoU signing, the group travelled to Namosi village for the signing of the Contract for the Provision of Goods and Services over Five Years: High Integrity Carbon Services with Traditional Landowner group, Mataqali Nabukebuke.


We had a magical week trailing our self-determining community development process in June last year. We spent the first two days on Gimuy country at Tjapukai in Cairns. We discussed the impacts of settler-colonialism and particularly the ‘problems narrative’ that continues to justify external non-Indigenous stakeholders making decisions on behalf of Indigenous people.

The conversations were hard, challenging and thought-provoking. An outcome from the first day was depending on the audience and interest these topics could be explored at different depths.

This was followed by a real shift into doing something about the problems-narrative. Mapping tools were utilised that demonstrated the plethora of skills, experiences, talent, resources across domains of human, cultural, social, infrastructure, natural, and economic. The group broke into three smaller groups and applied the mapping to the communities of Hopevale, Wonnurua and Quandamooka Nations.

Each group was led by Traditional Owners from those communities and nations. Following the mapping, a visioning exercise took place, which drew on the bounty of skills and experiences to meet community aspirations and possibilities. The group consisted of partners from Firesticks and NAILSMA as well as KabiKabi and Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity (AFSE) senior fellows and Dr Dave Pollock, curriculum curator for AFSE. All AbCF staff attended, and we couldn’t have imagined a better participation and commitment to helping us understand the resonance for this process.

We travelled to Palmerville and were met by Western Yalanji Traditional Owners who hosted us for the most amazing two days that included helicopter visits to the rock art galleries, exploring the sugar bag and scar trees, and a cultural burn. The whole event was uplifting, and friendships were forged. There is a role for AbCF to bring together different Traditional Owners to facilitate difficult discussions, however, also to present simple tools to contribute to the breaking of the ubiquitous problems-narrative and most importantly mobilise relationships while having fun along the way!


Last month our team travelled to Dubai to talk up Indigenous innovation in the carbon space and creating strong connections on a global scale. One of the biggest positives to come from our time in Dubai at COP28 has been a deep strengthening of our relationships with fellow First Nations agencies engaged in the business of Indigenous empowerment.

We would especially like to acknowledge the deadly Indigenous Carbon Industry Network Co-Chair Cissy Gore-Birch for her leadership and vision.

We would also like to acknowledge the Indigenous Desert Alliance Executive, the team at North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance including Dr Leah Talbot and First Nations Ambassador Justin Mohamed.

Over the past week we have had the amazing opportunity to engage in both formal presentations and fun social events, fostering discussions about our impactful work in Australia, Timor Leste and Fiji.

A highlight was our formal presentation led by our Chair, Barry J Hunter, who skillfully chaired our panel alongside the Timor Leste President of the National Designated Authority for Climate Change; with kudos to the powerhouse of AbCF, Lisa McMurray for her articulate presentation on our approach to core benefits, creating many positive international connections.

Amidst the bustling schedule, we navigated through a sea of events, but every moment was well worth it.

A huge thanks to everyone that made this experience memorable. We look forward to the positive momentum of change that we hope will come from these lasting connections.

Read our reflections here: Swimming with the Carbon Sharks at COP28 by Rowan Foley.


AbCF recently engaged in critical and engaging panel discussions during the recent Indigenous Carbon Industry Network (ICIN) Savanna Fire Conference in Darwin recently. Led by CEO Rowan Foley and our Chairperson Barry Foley, we shared our insights and experiences gleaned from our work in Northern Australia and beyond. The event provided a vibrant platform for collaboration and learning, underscoring the importance of Indigenous-led solutions for tackling climate challenges.

During our session, we unveiled plans for an exciting initiative in Fiji, aimed at fostering a high-integrity carbon industry. Through the establishment of four joint working groups, we are poised to embark on a journey of methodology development, core benefits identification, public registry establishment, and the formulation of a robust code of conduct. This initiative embodies our commitment to inclusivity and community empowerment, ensuring that the benefits of carbon initiatives are felt locally and sustainably.

The conference shed light on the pivotal role Indigenous communities play in climate action. While Australia has made strides in Savanna fire management, there remains a collective responsibility to elevate Indigenous voices and leadership in climate solutions. True progress requires more than mere consultation or grant applications, it demands genuine engagement, rooted in humility, learning and mutual celebration of success.

Our participation in this event reaffirmed our dedication to collaborative, Indigenous-centred approaches. We are energised by the opportunities ahead and inspired by the collective resolve of our fellow advocates. Together, we will continue to champion climate solutions that honour and uplift communities, steering clear of eco-colonialism and profiteering.

Stay tuned for updates on our Fijian carbon industry initiative and other exciting developments. Let’s forge ahead, united in our quest for a more sustainable future and more empowered First Nations communities.


Caption: AbCF welcomed a returning delegation from Timor Leste to Western Yalanji country for two days, participating in cultural fire burns and rich cultural exchange. Many stories were shared around the campfire and relationships strengthened as we spent time on country with Traditional Owners and Senior Rangers. We then travelled through to Sydney and Canberra – meeting industry leaders in the Carbon industry.

The Aboriginal Carbon Foundation (AbCF) is honored to have been invited by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Coordinating for Economic Affairs and Minister of Tourism and Environment Maun Francisco Kalbuadi Lay to sign a Memoranda of Understanding with the Timor-Leste Government at the International Business Forum 2023 – Discovering Blue and Green opportunities for Sustainable Investment.

Our climate and carbon work has been given official recognition and blessing to continue, and we welcome the opportunity to further our commitment to the people of Timor-Leste, especially the Landowners. The architecture to build a domestic carbon industry and sustainable economy that supports independence will involve national legislation and policies to enable trade with foreign nations and companies.

This year we’ll be supporting the development of the carbon infrastructure that underpins Timorese independence rather than continued reliance on foreign commercial carbon companies in days gone by.


It is with love and gratitude that we bid farewell to our Regional Manager and all-round superstar, Shilo Villaflor. A huge congratulations to Shilo on her new position with Reconciliation Australia where she will undoubtably shine her light there as she did here. We have had the absolute pleasure of working alongside Shilo for the past four years and during that time we have been privileged to witness the amazing way she manages our cultural and community business. She will be sorely missed, and we wish her the very best on her next big adventure!

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