The carbon farming industry must make sure it goes beyond legislative requirements and look at “genuine partnership” with First Nations peoples, Tyronne Garstone, chief executive of the Kimberley Land Council, has told a Town Hall session on Indigenous carbon. 

The session was part of the Carbon Farming Industry Forum being hosted this week in Cairns by the Carbon Market Institute. 

Garstone added that it is important not to just talk about carbon market integrity “in a western frame”. 

“We also need to talk about integrity in a cultural sense,” he said.  

Cassandra Stevens, coordinator and director of the Kullili Bullo River Aboriginal Corporation, told the session that her organisation has had “a good experience” from its move into the carbon industry. 

Stevens said the Kullili people initially knew little about the industry but had gradually built up its knowledge to the point where it had become the sole owner of the land on which the carbon abatement project is taking place, instead of just an interest holder.  

This was a powerful achievement for the Kullili people because many forebears had been removed from that Country by the government, Stevens told the session.  

“Now our challenge is to flip the switch and create those pathways and opportunities for our own people,” she said. 

The Kullili project was undertaken with the involvement of Climate Friendly and impact investor Conscious Investment Management, supported by pro bono legal work from Norton Rose Fulbright. 

Melissa Sinclair, general manager of APN Cape York, told the session that First Nations people need to feel they are “in a position where they can enable their rights and interests in their own Country go forward in a way that’s appropriate and is in alignment with their own values”.  

“It’s beyond an agreement about just percentage of revenue that might be generated,” Sinclair said. “It’s about opportunity.” 

Garstone added that Free Prior and Informed Consent is “a two-way process. It’s a higher threshold than just being consulted with.” 

“Consent is one thing, if you’re really wanting to have a lasting project… it’s really about building the relationship. If you don’t have the foundation of a really strong relationship, then the likelihood is that there’s going to be risk with the project,” he concluded. 


The Carbon Farming Industry Forum is running today and tomorrow in Cairns, featuring speakers representing farmers and land managers, including Traditional Owners, as well as regulators, and investors.   

Ahead of the opening day at the Carbon Farming Industry Forum, CMI released it’s third annual Carbon Farming Roadmap report, which evaluates the progress of all Australian jurisdictions in fostering growth & ambition across the industry, as well as facilitating transparency and integrity. The full report is available here. 

About the Forum 

The Carbon Farming Industry Forum will take place in-person at the Shangri-la The Marina from May 20-22 in Cairns. The Forum Program includes interactive plenaries, workshops and networking spread across two days, Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd May 2023. 

Under the umbrella theme of “Connecting Country, Community & Climate”, the 2024 Forum will focus on the following key themes providing a framework for discussions: 

  • Carbon Farming Market Developments, Optimising Policy Frameworks & Market Design 
  • Agricultural & Land Sector Decarbonisation 
  • The Nature & Climate Nexus 
  • Communicating Benefits & Building Capacity 


The Forum is a national event convening the major stakeholders across the land-sector carbon credit supply chain to reflect on industry progress against the Carbon Farming Industry Roadmap. 

About the Carbon Market Institute  

The Carbon Market Institute (CMI) is a member-based institute accelerating the transition towards a negative emissions, nature positive world. It champions best practice in carbon markets and climate policy, and its around 150 members include primary producers, carbon project developers, Indigenous organisations, legal, technology and advisory services, insurers, banks, investors, corporate entities and emission intensive industries. The positions put forward constitute CMI’s independent view and do not purport to represent any CMI individual, member company, or industry sector.  

For further information, contact Thomas Hann on 0408 880 536 or 

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