"Let’s say a new irrigation scheme is proposed and all the land it’ll take up
needs to be cleared — trees felled, soil upturned, and habitats destroyed.
Water will also have to be allocated. Would the economic gain of the scheme
outweigh the damage to the environment?
This is the kind of question so-called “land accounts” grapple with. Land
accounts are a type of “environmental account”, which measures our interactions
with the environment by recording them as transactions. They help us understand
the environmental and economic outcomes of land use decisions.
Environmental accounting, for which Australia has a national strategy, seeks to
integrate environmental and economic data to ensure sustainable decision
making. Last month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the country’s
first national land account under the strategy, describing it as
Environmental accounting could be a game changer for conserving nature, but the
account released by the ABS falls flat. It’s yet another example of Australia’s
environmental policy culture: we develop or adopt good ideas, but then just
tinker with them, or even discard them."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics