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Tackling climate change with traditional means, Aboriginal Carbon Foundation builds wealth for First Nations Australians

Callan Morse -

Rowan Foley, a Wondunna man of Fraser Island's Badtjala people has spent many years working on Country.

The ranger by trade has undertaken roles in national parks for over 20 years which included the position of Park Manager of central Australia's Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

In 2010, he became the founding chief executive of the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation after he and founding directors Kwementyaye "Tracker" Tilmouth, David Ross and Allan Cooney identified a future in carbon farming and it's benefits for First Nations people.

"We could see that there was an opportunity here for Traditional Owners to look after country and make a dollar," he said.

"People could see that in the future there would be something there and it was something worth working towards if we went about it the right way."

Fast forward 12 years and the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation is an industry leader in creating community prosperity for Indigenous people through carbon farming and the ethical trade of carbon credits.

Aboriginal Carbon Foundations CEO Rowan Foley speaking at this year's Garma Festival. Image: supplied.

The foundation offers a suite of services, some the first of their kind, that have positive environmental, social and cultural outcomes for First Nations people, all whilst reducing the carbon footprint of investors.

In addition to offering Australia's only nationally accredited training course on carbon farming and providing verification services of environmental, social and cultural core benefits, the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation have also developed a world first trading platform.

"We've developed catalyst markets, a trading website that we've recently established which is the world's first Indigenous trading platform of environmental commodities," Mr Foley said.

"Cultural fire credits are the first commodity that we're trading on the platform."

The trading platform provides a new opportunity for investors to support Traditional Owners, all whilst keeping outcomes for First Nations peoples at the forefront of mind.

"For the first time you can invest in Traditional Owners looking after country by buying their carbon credits or buying cultural fire credits," Mr Foley said.

Carbon farming training is one of a number of services offered by the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation. Image: Aboriginal Carbon Foundation.

"What we're really doing here is we're manipulating the market to suit First Nations people.

"Often it's the other way around, often First Nations people are manipulated to suit the market.

"So what we've done is we've said no, we're going to create a market based around Traditional Owner knowledge and environmental services."

Mr Foley said combining traditional ways of environmental management with carbon credit investment could provide tangible solutions for climate change problems across Australia.

"It's not as though these problems don't have solutions, because they do," he said.

The Aboriginal Carbon Foundation connects Traditional Owners with corporate investors. Image: Aboriginal Carbon Foundation.

Mr Foley will be speaking to investors about services offered by the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation at this month's Social Enterprise World Forum.

"We want serious investors to come on board and support us," he said.

"We've got catalyst markets, we've got a trading platform, we've got a few commodities, commodities which will deal with serious bushfires in Australia."

He said that the flow-on effects due to investment in the foundation are widespread.

"We're here to create jobs on Country, we're here to address the bushfires and we're here to address climate change," Mr Foley said.

"It's actually more about what we're doing, rather than who we are."

The Aboriginal Carbon Foundation will be offsetting the Social Enterprise World Forum, making it a carbon neutral event.

The two day conference will be held at Brisbane's Convention & Exhibition Centre from September 28 to 29.

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