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Ecosystem Accounting in Australia Brian Pink Australian Statistician Australian Bureau of Statistics Learning Centre Experimental Ecosystem Accounts United.

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Presentation on theme: "Ecosystem Accounting in Australia Brian Pink Australian Statistician Australian Bureau of Statistics Learning Centre Experimental Ecosystem Accounts United."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ecosystem Accounting in Australia Brian Pink Australian Statistician Australian Bureau of Statistics Learning Centre Experimental Ecosystem Accounts United Nations Statistical Commission 25 February 2013

2 Outline of presentation Background – Australian Government interest in environmental accounting – ABS program of environmental accounting How ecosystem accounting is being advanced in Australia ABS experimental land and ecosystem accounts Issues for resolution Lessons learnt

3 Background: 2009 Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) Also known as the Hawke Review. Chapter 19 is devoted to national environmental accounts Available on line: ew/index.html

4 Background: Recommendation 67 (1) of the EPBC Act Review The Review recommends that the Australian Government, in the interests of promoting ecologically sustainable development, develop a system of environmental accounts to: (a) establish baseline national environmental information; (b) provide capacity to systematically monitor changes in the quality of the Australian environment; (c) provide an information basis for improved regional planning and decision ‑ making; and (d) provide a secondary objective of strengthening the capacity of local government land ‑ use planning decision ‑ making.

5 Background: Current ABS Environmental-Economic Accounts and Ecosystem Accounting Energy Account (Annual) Australian System of Environmental - Economic Accounts (Annual) National Accounts Data Natural resources on National Balance Sheet (Annual) Experimental Land Accounts (2 states so far) Water Account (Annual) Experimental Waste Account (Feb 2013) National Carbon Account (Dept of Climate Change) Input-output analysis of energy and greenhouse gas emissions Ecosystem accounts Biodiveristy Carbon Ecosystem condition ABS, BOM, DCCEE, DAFF Victorian government South East Queensland CMA Wentworth group and universities

6 Development of ecosystem accounting Australia Several versions of ecosystem accounting have been developed in parallel in different organisations and scales (local, state, national, international) At the ABS ecosystem accounting has grown out of the established environmental accounting program The SEEA Central Framework and the SEEA Experiment Ecosystem Accounting provide the starting point for the ABS ABS provided substantial technical support for the development of the SEEA and in this we engaged widely with other parts of government, land management agencies and academics in making contributions to the SEEA. ABS with the Bureau of Meteorology and Department of Sustainable and Environment of Victoria co-hosted a meeting of the Expert Group on Ecosystem Accounting Other government departments, natural resource management agencies and academics are now using the SEEA

7 Examples of ecosystem accounting initiatives in Australia Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities – 2010 Ecosystem services: Key concepts and applications Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries – 2012 Discussion paper on Ecosystem services Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment – 2008 ecoMarkets science Wentworth Group – 2008 Accounting for Nature – 2011 Trials of environmental asset condition South East Queensland Catchments – 2012 Ecosystem Services Framework SEQ

8 ABS land and ecosystem accounting Australia Land accounts provide the starting point for ecosystem accounting at the ABS Land cover and land use are two key characteristics to consider is ecosystem accounting To these ABS is developing with partners experimental accounts for – Biodiversity – Carbon – Ecosystem condition

9 ABS Experimental Land Accounts for Victoria and the Great Barrier Reef Catchments Land account integrated: Environmental data Economic data Social data Ecosystem condition Data was spatial explicit

10 Land and ecosystem valuation The hardest part of ecosystem accounting is valuation Land and ecosystems have economic and non- economic values Land is traded in markets and economic values for the land, and all the characteristics of the land - e.g. rainfall, elevation, soil type, land cover, proximity to markets - can be established (and is recorded in the SNA) Ecosystem services encompass both economic (production of food) and non-economic values (conservation of biodiversity). Physically identifying and separating the economic and non-economic values is the starting point

11 Land value in Australia Total market land value at 30 June 2012 was AUD 3,684 billion, down slightly from AUD 3,887 billion at 30 June 2010 Rural land accounted for AUD 264 billion or 7% of total land value At 30 June 2012 land represented 37% of all of total assets (= AUD 10,488 billion) At 30 June 2012 land represented 85% of all of natural resource assets (=AUD 4,560 billion) From the Australia System of National Accounts All values are in current prices 1 AUD = 1.02 USD Billion = 1,000,000,000 or 10 9

12 Great Barrier Reef Statistical Area 1 regions Accounts were developed with special survey forms that included maps of individual land parcels, generated from administrative data sources

13 Land Account Outputs Tables (NRM and GBR region) Land use by industry (hectares) Land use by industry (AUD$) Land use classified by ACLUMP Dynamic Land Cover Vegetation cover 2006 and pre 1750 Forest extent and change 1998 to 2008 An interactive Google Earth® showing: – Counts of population (i.e. population) and businesses – Fire, temperature and rainfall – Rateable land value and land use


15 Land Value as recorded in government information system National park = zero value Accounting for the condition of different areas

16 Experimental biodiversity and carbon accounts Biodiversity and carbon accounts are two clearly defined component of ecosystem accounting The ABS is working with the Victorian Government, researchers at the Australian National University, the University of Queensland and the Bureau of Meteorology to develop biodiversity and carbon information to add to the experimental land accounts The accounts will build on existing national data on carbon stocks and flows from the System of National Accounts, the National Carbon Accounting System and lists of endangered and threatened species

17 Key issues for Australia Determining the appropriate reference for reference condition (e.g. “natural”, expected services flows or arbitrary base year?) The benefits and costs of different activities can change depending on the scale (typically a clear local private beneficiary and widespread and dispersed public costs) and as such the appropriate scale of accounting can change. Different agencies are interested in different aspects of ecosystem accounting (e.g. physical assets, physical flows or valuation). Where to focus efforts in the short term? Educate potential users so that they can better understand accounts and how they can be used Build technical capability and improve basic data

18 Lessons learnt Cooperation is essential – between agencies and between professions (e.g. accountants, economists and ecologists) Spatial data and spatial manipulation of data are needed Experimental or pilot studies are useful for developing methods, building capability and demonstrating how accounts can be used Need to focus on repeatability (i.e. the regular production of accounts) There will be criticism – the work necessarily requires trade-offs between accuracy and frequency (especially if annual production is the aim) as well as fitting imperfect data to the accounting tables Need to explain the application of accounts to public policy to potential users

19 Example of explaining accounts to users Issues linked to accounts, including climate change, green growth and sustainability @.nsf/mf/4628.0.55.001 Contact for more information

20 Acknowledgements A large number of people and agencies are contributing to the development of ecosystem accounting in Australia Bureau of Meteorology Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Victorian Government Queensland Government South East Queensland Catchments Wentworth Group Australian National University Queensland University

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