Australian farmers could soon be selling their environmental management services to the public, such as fencing riparian zones, according to Farm Online.
I am not sure how fencing a riparian zone could be seen as selling an environmental service to the public? Do they mean the public will pay to have the riparian area fenced?
Apparently Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran is finalizing a new system for “stewardship payments” to farmers.
The federal government’s Agriculture and Food Policy Reference Group recently released a report titled Creating Our Future:Agriculture and Food Policy for the Next Generation that recommended government support a new market based program for the delivery of environmental services including a system that:
1. Operates nationally, but be administered at a regional or sub-regional level to target areas of higher conservation value
2. Allow a range of purchasers to participate (such as philanthropic conservation groups or private companies), although governments will be the main purchasers through, for example, a successor program to the NHT and NAP
3. Be equitable and allow landholders to bid competitively for funding on a basis that reflects the marginal value of maintaining land in its current use and the direct cost of conservation measures (such as fencing and maintenance of the area being conserved)
4. Have clear objectives and targets, with funding decisions based on an assessment of the environmental benefit relative to the price tendered
5. Be efficient to run with low transaction costs.
According to a CSIRO “news flash” on 8th August last year, auction-based systems are the most cost effective mechanism for distributing funds to private landholders to improve water quality and biodiversity on private land. This recommendation was based on a trial conducted by CSIRO and the Onkaparinga Catchment Water.
The more tradition method is by ‘devolved grant’ schemes.
Pressure for a new mechanism follows recognition that the state-based vegetation management laws are costing farmers a lot of money.
The financial cost was the focus of a paper delivered at this year’s ABARE Outlook conference in Canberra. The study by Lisa Elliston reported that native vegetation legislation in central and western New South Wales alone would cost the economy A$1.1 billion in today’s terms over a 15 year period.
And just yesterday, according to ABC Online, the Queensland government released its new draft guidelines for the assessment of tree clearing applications for thinning and weed control.