Over the past 20 years, dairy farming in New Zealand has boomed. Dairy now accounts for around one third of New Zealand's annual merchandise exports and is a key driver of regional growth.
While this has benefited New Zealanders economically, there has been an environmental cost in the form of increased water pollution. New Zealand's inland water bodies have suffered higher nutrient levels, and there are concerns nutrients might continue to be delivered by groundwater for decades to come.
CEED Postdoctoral Fellow Graeme Doole from UWA has been at the forefront of efforts to identify effective and efficient strategies to reduce this water pollution. He has built sophisticated models that integrate environmental and economic aspects of the problem at scales ranging from individual farms to whole catchments with hundreds of farms. He has used these models to evaluate new practices and technologies for pollution reduction to estimate the costs to dairy farmers of achieving various pollution-reduction targets, and to identify how pollution reduction can be allocated between farms in different locations in order to achieve pollution-reduction targets at the least overall cost.
Recognising the importance and the practical relevance of Graeme's research, the New Zealand Government (Ministry for the Environment and Ministry for Primary Industries) has increasingly sought his advice on the design and implementation of new policies. At their request, Graeme has directly advised ministers and senior government officials.
In 2014–15, Graeme was seconded to the Ministry for the Environment to conduct economic evaluation of a new policy framework for water quality and quantity in New Zealand. Following this work, the Ministry for the Environment have sponsored a Chair of Environmental Economics for Graeme at the University of Waikato. He has a continuing role as an Economic Advisor, working with the Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Primary Industries to provide further evaluation of additions to the new policy framework, guide implementation of the policy throughout New Zealand, and work with stakeholders to understand trade-offs associated with various ways of enacting the policy across diverse catchments.