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Estimating the Value of Environmental Services Provided by Australian Farmers

For some time the Australian agricultural sector has been subject to considerable public criticism about  the impact of some industry practices on the environment. Issues of concern have included loss of biodiversity, diminishing water quality, reduced water availability, and increased soil erosion and salinisation.

However, over recent decades there have been signifi  cant changes implemented to many farm management systems, which have resulted in improved environmental and productivity outcomes. These changes have included introducing deep-rooted perennial pastures, extensive tree planting, fencing off riparian zones, the adoption of best-management practice systems, and the retention of areas of natural vegetation. Changes
have been stimulated by a range of different factors including government regulations, incentive programs, government grants and market-based instruments.

The improved environmental outcomes arising from these changes are of great importance to both the sector and the wider community, although generally go unnoticed. In part this is due to the propensity for bad news to gain more attention than good news, but it is also partly due to the fact that improved environmental outcomes are a public good that is usually not marketed or valued economically.

Developing robust methodologies to establish the value of enhanced environmental outcomes from agriculture is an important step that will assist increased community recognition of positive change, and is also a necessary step in developing future natural resource policy priorities.

The research reported here provides a detailed examination of this issue, and uses case studies to highlight the value that changes in farmers natural resource management practices have delivered to the Australian community. The research also highlights the opportunity that exists for governments to increase the value of farm environmental services provided for the community, if appropriate policies and incentives are implemented.

Full Report
June 2008, pp. 1 - 91 (91 pages)
Publisher: Australian Farm Institute
Author: Gillespie, R
ISBN: 978-0-9803460-8-4



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