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Unpacking Natural Capital Accounting

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Business Innovations

Wheatbelt NRM continued their upskilling journey on all things natural capital by attending the recent Accounting for Nature Training workshop held at Muresk Institute.

Hosted by the WA Regenerative Livestock Producers, Regen WA, and Perth NRM, the workshop helped land managers understand the Accounting for Nature methods and framework by providing an overview of how it works, cemented by a simple rapid assessment methodology in an area of riparian vegetation.

Understanding and being able to verify baseline ecological condition and change in condition is important for:

  • Actively addressing biodiversity decline and system resilience in a drying climate.
  • Measuring the effect of land management actions on both ecological condition and agricultural productivity within a farming business to inform ongoing business decisions.
  • Contributing to regional or product-scale accounts and environmental credentials.
  • Boosting social license by validating good land stewardship claims.
  • Safeguarding future access to global food and fibre markets, and/or premium markets that require product backed by environmental credentials.
  • Improved risk profiles from banks and insurers (e.g. lower interest rates).
  • Diversified income opportunities through environmental markets (credit and certification schemes).
  • Informing property valuations.

As land stewards for a large proportion of the Wheatbelt landscape, farmers now have greater impetus to demonstrate the work being done to maintain and improve the ecological condition of soil, vegetation, fauna and water assets.

In simple terms, preparation of a natural capital account equips land managers to compare the cost/benefit of investment into natural asset management against the appreciation or depreciation of those tangible assets, and also evaluate how biodiversity and soil health condition, for example, affect yield, net profit, and farming system resilience over time.

Driven by climate imperatives and biodiversity decline that have both global and local impacts,

Australia’s multilateral commitments now underpin our trading economy. These include:

The 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change COP21

2022 Montreal-Kunming Biodiversity Framework COP13

Providing one tool to help land managers engage with these commitments is Accounting for Nature, a not-for-profit company that, based on a conceptual model developed by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, has established a robust method to measure changes in the biophysical condition of environmental assets at both regional and individual property scale.  The methods can potentially be used to produce a combined condition score across a sub-region or catchment landscape, or a grower (product) collective in different property locations.

Accounting for Nature methods can be used to determine an environmental condition score, known as Econd® for most assets, with the addition of a production condition score (Pcond) for assets such as soil or perennial/native grazing lands. The assessment is repeated in future years to determine the change in Econd® or Pcond, thus assisting a review of management decisions and providing evidence of condition change.

Contact Carla Swift on 0499 800 379 to discuss your natural capital accounting pathways and to be part of emerging opportunities within the region.

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