Informing natural resource management policy through cost-benefit analysis
thesisposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by M Star
A key challenge in improving water quality entering into the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) from rangelands grazing is to understand the economic trade-offs in changing management practices and subsequent sediment reductions. In grazing lands in the Fitzroy and Burdekin catchments this can be achieved by improving land condition and reducing stocking rates to improve ground cover. A key conceptual problem facing policymakers is a lack of quantitative models and procedures to assess the costs and benefits of changing practices and to improve policy and program mechanisms. A cost–benefit framework provides an appropriate methodology to estimate the trade-offs to achieving targeted reductions in sediments. To complete the framework the costs were estimated using a bioeconomic modelling approach and the community benefits of achieving sediment reductions were estimated through a choice modelling approach. The methodology integrated current policies and plans to consider the approaches in a policy framework. The results bring together both the bioeconomic modelling and choice modelling, demonstrating that the community benefit for improved GBR health is significantly higher than the current level of government investment. The large heterogeneity in costs creates challenges in the complexity of administering efficient policy mechanisms but allows for clear prioritisation and targeting in the landscape.