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Traditional methods used to combat climate change

Suggested Reading Suggested Reading

12 November 2015

Four projects in the Northern Territory are using traditional fire management practices and research to better control the extent and severity of savanna wildfires. Currently, fires across northern Australia produce around 3 percent of our national greenhouse gas emissions, but in places like the Northern Territory, they account for approximately 40 per cent of the Northern Territory's total emission profile.

Savanna burning methods can be used to reduce methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) released by fire into the atmosphere through the use of strategic early dry season fire management as well as late dry season fire suppression across savannas in the tropical north of Australia.

In Arnhem Land, the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement projects (WALFA and WALFA Stage 2) operated by Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (NT) Ltd are carried out by six Indigenous ranger groups consisting of traditional custodians and their families. These projects successfully partner thousands of years of Aboriginal traditional land management practice with modern scientific knowledge and remote sensing technology. In addition to generating greenhouse gas abatement, these projects also demonstrate the high value of co-benefits generated by savanna burning activities. For example, Aboriginal people are supported in returning to and remaining on their country, Aboriginal languages are maintained, the knowledge of old people is preserved and transferred to younger generations, destructive wildfires are reduced and biodiversity, some of it critically endangered is protected.​

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