Tiwi Carbon Study

Nearly half of the Tiwi Islands are burnt every year, resulting in significant greenhouse gas emissions being released from vegetation and soil. Reducing the extent of these fires can earn carbon credits, representing an economic opportunity for Tiwi people. However, the substantial Tiwi cultural values relating to fire need to be maintained, as do the Tiwi Islands’ exceptional biodiversity values, which are of national significance and remain an integral part of the cultural heritage of Tiwi people.

The Tiwi Carbon Study, which started in 2009, is identifying the environmental and economic potential of fire management for greenhouse gas abatement on the Tiwi Islands, in the context of developing sustainable livelihood opportunities for Tiwi people that meet their economic, environmental and cultural needs. Key outcomes include:

  • Quantification of emissions from Tiwi fires under the existing savanna burning methodology.
  • Establishment of a long-term field experiment for testing the impacts of different fire management options on vegetation, carbon dynamics and biodiversity.
  • Development of a new savanna burning methodology for carbon storage in ecosystems.
  • Tiwi people able to engage in burning for greenhouse gas abatement for economic benefit.

A booklet, Tiwi Burning: Fire and Carbon on the Tiwi Islands and video have been produced for Tiwi people about the project.

In 2016, the Tiwi Islands Savanna Burning for Greenhouse Gas Abatement project, was registered with the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund. In 2016, the project was also a finalist in the Indigenous Leadership Category (Fire management for greenhouse gas abatement) of the Banksia Sustainability Award.

The Tiwi Carbon Study was initially a partnership between the Tiwi Land Council, Tiwi Land Rangers, Tiwi Forests and CSIRO, with funding support from the Federal Government’s Biodiversity Fund, Indigenous Carbon Farming Fund, Aboriginal Benefits Account, and Unlocking Australia’s Future Program. It is now a partnership between the Tiwi Land Council and Charles Darwin University.