Summary Much of northern Australia’s tropical savannas are subject to annual intense and extensive late dry season wildfires, much of this occurring on Aboriginal land. Based on the successful West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (WALFA) model, which has resulted in significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, fire abatement programmes are planned for other significant regions of northern Australia. This study offers an introduction to the ideas behind a proposed environmental and social benchmarking project that aims to evaluate the potential benefits of expanding the fire abatement program in northern Australia, under the leadership of NAILSMA and its partners. Gaining a better understanding of the biodiversity, social and cultural outcomes of these fire abatement activities is an important component of demonstrating multiple benefits of these programmes. We emphasize the role of both biodiversity and cultural mapping to establish benchmarks and baseline states, with the involvement of Indigenous communities being a key element to optimize social and biodiversity benefits. Consultation with Traditional Owners and ranger groups to establish an agreed set of targets, indicators and sampling protocols and methodologies are critical component of this process. Examples of preliminary work to date are provided.