Governments around the world pay farmers large sums of money each year to protect and restore biodiversity on farmland. When added together, these sums total billions of dollars and yet biodiversity is still in decline everywhere. After more than two decades of these schemes in Australia, what have we learnt? Are we getting the most of these investments, and how should we do things differently in the future?
Earlier this week ANU Press launched a new textbook on agri-environment schemes in Australia, with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) a major contributor.
Titled Learning from agri-environment schemes in Australia, the book brings together the latest thinking from leading ecologists, economists, social scientists, restoration practitioners and policymakers, many of whom are CEED researchers.
There are chapters on designing cost-effective agri-environment schemes, choosing different policy tools to account for public and private benefit, improving the performance of agri-environment investments, and what farmers prefer in agri-environment contracts.
Mixed in with the theory are reflections on how to work effectively with farmers, the role of environmental non-government organisations (like Greening Australia) and lessons from the Australian Government’s Environmental Stewardship Program.
CEED is an acknowledged world-leader in the design of nature reserves and protected areas. Less well known, but just as important, is its work in other areas of environmental decision making such as policy analysis of investments in private-land conservation – and in this case payments to farmers for biodiversity outcomes. Keep in mind that in Australia agriculture accounts for more than half of the land surface, and that a mere 15 percent of threatened species on land are adequately covered by the existing network of reserves. If we want to conserve our biodiversity, we need to focus our efforts on agricultural land.
The book was edited by Dean Ansell (ANU), Fiona Gibson (UWA) and David Salt (ANU). It’s available in hard copy or as a free downloadable eBook. It can be downloaded whole or any of the chapters can be downloaded by themselves. It’s perfect for anyone with an interest in biodiversity conservation on farms – researchers, policy makers, farmers, conservation managers and the general public.
It can be downloaded free of charge or a hard copy purchased at http://press.anu.edu.au/publications/learning-agri-environment-schemes-australia
Ansell, D., Gibson, F., & Salt, D. eds. (2016). Learning from agri-environment schemes in Australia: Investing in biodiversity and other ecosystem services on farms. Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.