It’s hard to track the impacts of development and conservation investments on interconnected environmental, socio-economic and cultural values. This is especially the case in relatively natural landscapes and in places of important cultural significance, since interlinkages between different values are often complex and unclear, clouding decision-making. Environmental-economic accounts (EEAs) help inform development and conservation investments by tracking the extent and condition of ecosystem assets, the ecosystem services produced by those assets, and the direct benefits delivered to individuals and society over time (Figure 1). These benefits can be valued in economic terms so that EEAs can help reveal the benefit delivered by specific land management activities. Research is needed on EEA approaches that can better account for interconnected ecosystem assets and their condition in ways that reflect regional ecological and socio-cultural contexts.
This research is developing an EEA approach that is appropriate for northern Australia. The team is working in Queensland’s Mitchell River catchment to develop a set of EEAs that reflect interconnected assets and the regional socio-cultural context. As well as being useful for informing decisions in the Mitchell River catchment, these accounts are helping inform Australia’s evolving approach to EEA as one of several pilot accounts being considered through the national EEA Strategy and Action Plan. As part of this broader work, researchers are considering the extent to which a common national approach to EEA can represent the full suite of ecosystem-related values relevant to regional populations.
This project is:
Dr Smart is being assisted by researchers from Griffith University and CSIRO as well as by land managers, rangers and others in the Mitchell River catchment.
This project is due for completion in June 2021.
Jim Smart, Griffith University