Skip to main content


Ecosystems, Carbon and Biodiversity

Ecosystems on Cape York

An ecosystem includes all of the living organisms (eg. plants, animals, fungi) and processes (eg. soil, water, air) in a given area. Each organism or process within the ecosystem relies on the others for it to work efficiently and effectively. If something is missing from a system, it has an impact somewhere else. For example, trees rely on seeds being dispersed to reproduce. If the bird that spreads a particular kind of seed is removed from the system, the tree will also be at risk. The flora and fauna that depend on the tree for food and shelter will also impacted. And so on. 

Cape York has incredible and invaluable ecosystems, including reef, wetlands, fresh water systems, rainforests, heath, savannah and grasslands. These are home to thousands of species and several hundred threatened species. 

Threatened ecosystems have been identified in the southern section of Cape York. The coastal vegetation type, called 'Littoral Rainforest and Coastal Vine Thickets of Eastern Australia', runs from Princess Charlotte Bay all the way to Victoria. This is the target of a national recovery planning process currently being conducted by the Department of the Environment.


Biome5 and Cape York NRM ran a project aimed to facilitate and develop a carbon prioritization framework for Cape York Peninsula (CYP).

Currently in CYP the main opportunity to create Australian Carbon Credit Units is by applying the savanna burning method, which reduces nitrous oxide and methane emissions through strategic early dry season fire management. Other CFI methods now available are not applicable or suitable for CYP. The main reason for this is the perceived intactness of CYP because most land-based methods assume a degraded or agricultural landscape.

Future carbon opportunities for CYP landholders under the CFI include the development of a rangeland management method that combines fire, cattle and soil management.

A more holistic approach to land management in CYP may be to develop a valuation of the ecosystem services provided by CYP, within which carbon abatement is embedded. This approach would, for instance, better value adaptation measures such as mangrove establishment as sea levels rise under climate change scenarios.

Fire Management

Getting an ERF project up is not a trivial exercise: you will need to set aside a significant amount of time and resources just to properly investigate the opportunity. There are a number of expert consultants who can help you with this. Be aware that they all have different approaches to recovering their profits from you. Depending on your goals, these arrangements might be very suitable or very detrimental. Take your time and make sure that the consultant is the best fit for your organisation and tolerance for risk.