Sustaining paddock trees in the landscape over time will depend strongly upon landholders’ voluntary adoption of grazing management strategies to integrate production and conservation goals. While there are strong and increasing examples of such integration, it remains a challenging prospect; especially when expectations are high for public good outcomes and private economic benefits are low or only occur into the future.
The ’Economics and Policy’ component of the Sustainable Farms project is investigating such issues and challenges in three key ways:
Exploring adoption & adaption issues
Exploring issues around adoption and adaptation involves using several ‘case study’ farms to evaluate alternative grazing systems and management responses to vegetation management. The involvement of landholders will be critical to understanding the relative advantage of alternative grazing management strategies and the other factors that are likely to affect long-term grazing management decisions. Quantifying the economic outcomes under alternative grazing management decisions using whole-farm modelling is also necessary.
Public investment in a diffuse asset
Scattered trees are increasingly are a significant environmental asset at the landscape scale, however the diffuse nature of the asset – they are dispersed across the landscape and are vulnerable to management decisions made by hundreds of different landholders. This presents a challenging case for a public investment strategy. Such investment would also have to compete on equal grounds with other NRM investment opportunities. An evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of public investment in the regional recovery of scattered paddock tree cover is proposed as part of the trail of the Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER) that is taking place in the Lachlan NRM Region.
Stakeholder-oriented evaluation of policy tools and processes for addressing pubic good outcomes
There are many different policy and institutional options or “interventions” that are used to address public good NRM issues – such as the long-term retention of native vegetation on private properties. In this sub-component of the research we will be seeking the involvement of landholders to evaluate the policy and institutional tools. The aim here is to identify the policy tools that are tailored to match the needs, priorities and motivations of landholders.