Discussion Paper on Ecosystem Services for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Final Report



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Discussion Paper on Ecosystem Services for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry


Final Report

July 5, 2012

This report was prepared by Board members, staff, fellows and scholars of Australia21, including:
Steven Cork

Geoff Gorrie

Peter Ampt

Simone Maynard

Philippa Rowland

Rachel Oliphant

Lynne Reeder

Lyn Stephens


Australia 21 Limited

ABN 25 096 242 410 ACN 096 242 410

PO Box 3244, Weston, ACT 2611

Phone: FAX: E-mail: Web:

02 6288 0823 02 6288 0823 office@australia21.org.au www.australia21.org.au


Table of Contents


Glossary of key terms and acronyms xi

Executive summary xvi

Recommendations xix



Introduction 1

Terms of Reference 3

Approach 4

Issues, origins and definitions 6

1.1 Where an ecosystem services approach fits with other approaches 8

1.2 Issues that the concept addresses 8

1.2.1 Getting environmental issues heard in public decision-making 9

1.2.2 Improving the quality and efficiency of public engagement in development and implementation of environmental policy 9

1.2.3 Explaining and justifying environmental policies in the context of broader policy issues 10

1.2.4 Developing whole of government understanding of, and strategic approaches to, the interrelationships between environmental, social and economic issues 10

1.2.5 Mobilising non-government resources to complement government efforts to address public environmental issues 10

1.2.6 Considering equity in decisions that involve multiple social, economic and environmental issues 11

1.2.7 Maintaining conservation of biodiversity as a key societal goal 11

1.3 Definitions 11

1.4 Different classifications are likely to be needed for different purposes 16

1.5 Alignment with economic approaches to benefits 17

1.6 Multifunctionality 19


Conceptual frameworks and typologies 20

1.7 Conceptual frameworks 20

1.8 Typologies of ecosystem services 24

1.9 Inclusion of ecosystem services in international environmental-economic accounts 26



Application of an ‘ecosystem services approach’ 29

1.10 The essence of an ecosystem services approach 29

1.11 Considering the full suite of services 31

1.12 When an ecosystem services approach is most useful and the roles of ecological and economic analyses 31

1.13 ‘Ecosystems approach’ and ‘ecosystem stewardship’ 37

Relationships between ecosystem services and biodiversity 40

1.14 The issues 40

1.15 Relationship between diversity and ecosystem function 41

1.16 The significance of “replicate” functions 41

1.17 How do ecosystems assemble and disassemble? 42

1.18 How much biodiversity is enough? 44

1.19 Identifying ecosystem service providers and their efficiencies 45

Dealing with multiple ecological processes and multiple benefits 48

1.20 Policy challenges 48

1.21 Frameworks for integrated assessment of multiple ecosystem processes and benefits 49

1.22 Assessing and addressing information needs 51

1.23 Inferring capacity to deliver ecosystem services from indicators of ecosystem state 53

1.24 Mapping the potential spatial arrangement of ecosystem services 54

1.25 Modelling multiple ecosystem services 54

1.26 Approaches to assessing the value of multiple ecosystem services 55


Activities currently underway in Australia and overseas that seek to incorporate ecosystem services approaches into the management of natural resources 60

An example framework for the ecosystem services associated with Australian rural lands 63

1.27 What are rural lands? 64

1.28 Applying ecosystem services typologies to rural lands 65

1.29 Relating ecosystem services to land management practices 65

1.30 Helping rural land managers to find innovative ways to manage ecosystem services 73

Issues associated with implementation of an ecosystem services approach in Australia 75

1.31 Attitudes towards the concept of ecosystem services 76

1.31.1 Data from our interviews 76

1.31.2 A view from industry 81

1.31.3 Insights from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment 82

1.32 A system-level view of enablers and blockers of ecosystem services approaches 82

1.33 Perceptions from the literature 94

1.34 What value might be added to policy by an ecosystem services approach? 95

1.34.1 Identifying issues 99

1.34.2 Policy analysis 99

1.34.3 Policy instruments 99

1.34.4 Consultation 100

1.34.5 Coordination 100

1.34.6 Decision 100

1.34.7 Implementation 100

1.34.8 Evaluation 100

1.34.9 Contributions to other dimensions of policy analysis 101

1.34.10 Potential costs 102

1.35 Key issues and recommended actions 102

1.36 Achieving strategic, holistic environmental-social thinking and planning across interest groups, sectors, government departments, and levels of government and society 106


1.37 Application of an ecosystem services approach in food, environment, agriculture and population policy 107

Appendix I Some definitions of ecosystem services 110

Appendix II Examples of ecosystem services typologies 112

Appendix III Rules for identifying ‘final’ ecosystem services 118

Appendix IV Major international ecosystem services projects and activities 119

Appendix V Major recent research and other activities relating to ecosystem services in Australia 124

Appendix VI Alternative typologies for soil ecosystem services 137

Appendix VII Insights about actions needed to facilitate an ecosystem services approach 139

Appendix VIII SWOT analysis 143

References 144




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