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Top end fire forum promotes sustainability in NT

David Prestipino -

A three-day fire management forum featuring 50 fire managers and rangers on Wulna Land at the De Lego Resort commenced in the Northern Territory on Tuesday.

The 2023 NT Savanna Fire Management (SFM) program is the brainchild of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, which funds the coordination, training, start-up and early operational costs for new fire management projects in the territory.

The SFM program delivers enhanced land management through controlled burns early in the dry season, and gives Indigenous people an ongoing connection to country and champions sustainable carbon enterprises in remote communities.

Biodiversity values are also at the core of the program, by reducing impact on places of cultural significance and producing a tangible carbon offset.

The three-day SFM forum initiative between the ILSC and various First Nations will feature insightful discussions and collaborative workshops until Thursday, with six different ranger groups in attendance.

The SFM contributes to Aboriginal people conducting controlled burns early in the dry season (May-October) and creates sustainable employment, training and business opportunities for NT Indigenous groups.

Participants hear from industry experts and their peers, and collectively share knowledge and experiences in fire management; in turn forming strong, lasting connections.

ILSC chief operating officer Matthew Salmon, one of the forum's key speakers, said the three-day event was an important and positive opportunity for co-collaboration and creating employment opportunities.

"Fire management is a traditional practice that provides many environmental and cultural benefits," he said.

"This is an exciting opportunity to many rangers together to share their stories of Caring for Country.

"The ILSC is working towards reconnecting people with Caring for Country, as well as creating employment through the carbon market opportunity."

He cited the Tiwi Project, which has generated 99,948 Australian Carbon Credits after registrating in 2016, as an example of how the ILSC assists carbon businesses get started.

The forum also recognises the hard work of fire managers and ranger groups, who are both dedicated and passionate about preserving land and its resources.

The SFM program between the ILSC and INPEX-operated Ichthys LNG Project is part of a voluntary offsets agreement with the NT Government, providing approximately $2m annually over 18 years to fund the coordination, training, start-up and early operational costs for new projects on Aboriginal lands in the Top End.

The project aims to reduce barriers for First Nations groups often with few alternative business development and employment options, and assist them with establishing carbon businesses.

The ILSC will present its findings from the forum in due course.

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