Northern Australia’s tropical savanna landscapes are among the most fire-prone ecosystems on Earth. Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from savanna burning represent a significant proportion—3 per cent on average—of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
Most emissions from savanna burning are generated by higher-intensity wildfires that sweep through remote areas during the late dry season in September and October. As well as producing greenhouse gases, wildfires also threaten biodiversity values of the Arafura Swamp region.
In pre-colonial times, such late season fires would have been far more limited in extent because of traditional mosaic burning earlier in the dry season. With fewer people living on country and using it in customary ways traditional burning declined and uncontrolled wildfires increased in vast areas of northern Australia.
However, the carbon economy has provided an opportunity for landowners to engage in landscape scale fire management. Since 2013, ASRAC Rangers have been part of Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (NT). This carbon abatement project has many beneficial outcomes; it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, protects biodiversity, and maintains a strong network of familial ties and co-operation across large areas of country. Rangers work with landowners to plan strategic early dry season burning each year. They deliver the incendiary program from helicopters, access country with four-wheel drives and walk long distances to undertake prescribed on-ground burning.
Healthy Country Plan
We know that the land needs its people to care for it and to keep it healthy. In the same way we know that caring for the country keeps us healthy – physically, spiritually and mentally.