Savanna enrichment

Updated 25 August 2014


  • Savanna enrichment is about growing food and carbon at the same time.
  • The first draft of the savanna enrichment methodology has been considered by the independent expert committee and could be finalised in the next year.
  • There are no savanna enrichment projects as yet, but trial sites are being managed by the Kimberley Training Institute as explained in the video.



Savanna enrichment is about storing carbon by planting native food species such as gubinge or pindan walnut in a savanna environment - growing food and carbon at the same time.

Over the last century, traditional management of country has given way to hot late season fires which tend to burn more vulnerable bush food species that were protected in the past by patchwork burning.

The idea with savanna enrichment is to combine traditional techniques with modern horticulture to create bush food plots in an existing savanna landscape. To start, some cool burns must be run through potential plots before planting cultivated bush food seedlings in small irrigated plots. In the early years, the trees need to be irrigated and stock kept out to assist development. Annual burning must be undertaken around the plot to protect it from the late season fires (just like with the savanna burning methodology).

Savanna enrichment is a sequestration activity which stores more carbon in trees. This is different to savanna burning, which reduces fire emissions going into the air. Savanna enrichment and savanna burning could be done alongside each other.




AbCF has developed a draft of the methodology or ruleset for savanna enrichment. The methodology was developed following a series of workshops in Broome attended by a range of Aboriginal organisations, government, research and industry representatives who decided to progress the savanna enrichment as a new methodology under the CFI (see this workshop report from April 2013).

Range of the proposed savanna enrichment methodology in northern Australia 

Range of the proposed savanna enrichment methodology in northern Australia 

Under the draft methodology, any project must take place in certain biographic regions in the north of Australia (see map). Each plot must be less than 1 hectare so the vegetation structure of the savanna landscape is not changed. A number of plots can be planted in a mosaic from a central irrigation source. To measure the carbon stored, each tree must be measured directly about every 5 years. The methodology proposes that the native fruit can be harvested in accordance with historical practices of traditional owners.

The independent expert committee has considered the first draft of the methodology and requested further information. A methodology could be finalised in the next year.


VIDEO Savanna Enrichment in the Kimberley  Aboriginal Carbon Fund & RIRDC

GALLERY Kimberley savanna enrichment tour September 2013

REPORT Workshop report Broome April 2013