Wilson Lab Journal Club: Paying for Environmental Services from Agricultural lands

Andrea Fullagar

I was recently involved in exploring a range of possible actions for reducing biodiversity loss in Australia to include in a submission to the Biodiversity 100 campaign. One of the actions that we discussed (but which was not included in the final set published in the Guardian) was to secure a proportion of native remnant vegetation on all agricultural properties, as well as provide financial rewards to farmers who implemented management actions that were directly linked to conservation.


Agricultural land comprises 473 million hectares or nearly 62 percent of the Australian continent, so there is a clear need to engage with private landholders in order to achieve conservation outcomes across large parts of the country. As the potential to secure more protected areas diminishes, the need to implement sustainable management practices on private land becomes more pressing. Providing economic incentives to landholders in response to a direct management action would place environmental services on the market, while contributing to biodiversity conservation. Financial incentives may come in the form of subsidies or through a market-based system where payments may be administered on a competitive basis.

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Biodiversity 100: actions for Australia

In this International Year of Biodiversity, the Conference of Parties (COP10) will meet this month to adopt a new target to slow the global loss of biodiverity. The Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) was ratified in 1993, and in 2002 a commitment was agreed upon by all Parties to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.

A pair of dingos in Northern Territory, Australia. Photograph: Arco Images/Alamy. From the Guardian.

It is clear that there has been a complete failure to meet the CBD 2010 targets. The rate of loss of biodiversity is alarming, poverty is still rife and the consumption of the Earth’s natural resources is occurring at an unprecedented rate – in a time when the world needs to reduce it’s emissions in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Continue reading Biodiversity 100: actions for Australia