Wondering what ecosystem goods and services are?

Curtis NRA, recently advising on the loss of their natural environment in two instances of illegal logging in Papua New Guinea (see previous posts), used this description, attributed to Tim Anderson USyd 2006: “Access to materials for food; housing; materials for medicine; fuels; fences; weapons; tools; canoes; textiles; string bags (bilums); cords and rope; musical instruments; artworks; and, articles of personal adornment, ritual and magic”.

This makes sense when you consider that the customary landowners in Papua New Guinea, particularly those remote from a major town like Lae, Madang or Port Moresby,  do not have access to a trading venue (market), for their goods. Nor is there a social security system in PNG.

SO! The ecosystem goods and services above are all that they have for survival.

Rod Campbell from Melbourne-based ‘Economists at Large’ points out that the above definition only includes ‘goods’ and NO ‘services’, such as climate regulation, water regulation etc., And, he is right, however Anderson may have concluded that the customary landowners took these for granted.

Curtis NRA adopts the now commonly accepted list of 20 goods and services, modified and complemented after Costanza 1997.

Environmental Offsets: Have we got the science right?

For any offset to mitigate against adverse impacts of a proposal or project (in the context of EIS practice), it must FIRST be seen to be commensurate. In other words, does the offset practically replicate the landscape, fauna and floral assemblages, and density of population, as well as the application of a multiplier to ensure there is no net loss of that population.

Secondly, and of equal importance, is a guarantee that the offset be of equivalent economic value of the natural system at risk, which takes into account location (distance from markets), human population density; extent of services; property values, and economic conditions at the time of valuation.

Accordingly, economic valuation of the impact of a proposal or policy, as well as the proposed OFFSETS, MUST be mandatory for any offset strategy!

RIO+20 at a loss to find a way forward!!

The 20th anniversary of the RIO Earth Summit in 1992, was held recently in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and apparently from one who was there, they were unable to come to terms with a definition of a ‘Green Economy’, while stating it was part of the conference by-line: ‘The Future We Want’.

A beautiful Bolivian environmental activist and scientist, Nele Marien, cited the foreword from this author’s PhD thesis to describe a ‘Green Economy’, duly referencing the work in the Harvard style. It has been abbreviated in her blog, and here is what she said:

Continue reading

Wait a minute, there’s been a hell of a lot going on!

Ross Gittins, Economics writer for the Sydney Morning Herald, published an article entitled “Environmental accounting is closer to reality”, in Weekend Business Opinion (June 23-24). It was a good article. However it failed to acknowledge, or even give cognisance to what has really been going on.

My (not yet acknowledged) emailed response to him is here: Continue reading

Feral hunters and birdwatchers in the same National Park?

Barry O’Farrell is making his claim for the most stupid act of a NSW Premier ever. Allowing uncontrolled hunters to access National Parks to cull feral animals, while  bushwalkers, campers, picnickers could possibly be present, is quite simply inviting disaster. What was wrong with the National Parks Authority controlled helicopter culling anyway, they even provided the service for nothing on adjoining privately held land of high conservation value.

Keep the cowboys out of the National Park Estate!!

Scant Hope for the Worlds Forests!


China has become a black hole for the world’s timber, much of it harvested illegally. Consumers should think twice before buying wood products made in China. Distinguished Professor William Laurance of James Cook University in Cairns deplores the current state and future of timber harvesting throughout the developing world without regard to the possible consequences. See his article Continue reading

Property Law applies to Ecosystem Goods and Services

Polly Higgins, a London Lawyer, has devoted her practice to only one client: The Earth!

Her process diagram to the left establishes credibility for a derived value approach to ecosystem goods and services, which are the ‘commodity’, of the ‘inert thing’, being Real Property (LAND).

Moreover only humans have a concept of value, and thus the responsibility to ensure the protection of nature as trustees for future generations.

See here

Chucking the baby out with the bathwater!

All states in Australia, and the Commonwealth, operate their reserve systems under the CAR principle (Comprehensive, Adequate, Representative), that is to say that the selection of nature reserves, National Parks, and State Conservation areas, are made on the basis that the ecosystems and species types selected are NOT already Comprehensive, Adequate or Representative in the Nature Reserve System.

Loss of ANY reserve for individual financial gain, or Govt royalties, is SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE, as they can be neither replaced nor replicated.

Over three decades of Conservation Biology and we are now losing control!

The SLOSS debate emerged in the mid 1970s and continued into the mid ’80s (SLOSS is an acronym for ‘single large or several small’), referring to the choice preference of one large conservation area over several small fragmented conservation areas, for long term viability and of preservation of genetic stock . Unfortunately the current policies of the State governments over the minerals rights on private and public land is causing increased fragmentation of both conservation areas and adjoining land. Read about the SLOSS debate here Continue reading