The Australian experience in using tenders for conservation
© 2015 The Authors Over the past 15 years Australia has been trialling conservation tenders and other market based instrument approaches to generate environmental outcomes, particularly on private lands. The best known of these is the BushTender auction for vegetation protection in Victoria, begun in the early 2000s. Subsequently, nearly 100 other tenders for biodiversity protection have been run in Australia with substantial variations in application and methodology generated by a mix of both intended design and case study differences. The number of separate conservation tenders that have been performed, and the variations in environmental targets, state jurisdictions, case study circumstances, design and implementation, provides a rich data base of projects for analysis – unique at the international level. The review section of the paper covers three broad areas. The first aim is to provide an overview of the various tenders and their history and design in different settings. The second is to review their application, particularly in relation to auction design, metric design and contract design aspects, while the third is to identify the extent to which tenders provided more cost-effective outcomes than alternatives such a fixed rate grants. An additional goal is to explain why, after so many trials, conservation tenders are not more widely used in Australia. Key conclusions are that the multiple trials show that tenders are robust, relatively simple to apply and deliver more cost-effective allocations of public funding than other grant mechanisms. The reasons for their limited use can be related more to political and bureaucratic forces and inertia rather than to economic and design limitations.