Co-benefits and trade-offs between agriculture and conservation: a case study in Northern Australia

Stoeckl, N., Chaiechi, T., Farr, M., Jarvis, D., Álvarez-Romero, J.G., Kennard, M.J., Hermoso, V., and Pressey, R.L. (2015) Co-benefits and trade-offs between agriculture and conservation: a case study in Northern Australia. Biological Conservation, 191. pp. 478-494.

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On-farm conservation programmes require land managers to pursue both market and non-market objectives. If one can identify objectives that are complementary (co-benefits) and competitive (trade-offs) so that co-benefits can be pursued and trade-offs avoided, one may be able to lower the costs to land managers of on-farm conservation programmes.

We used data from farms in northern Australia to identify potential trade-offs and co-benefits between market and non-market objectives. We used Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to assess the relationship between farm 'inputs' (e.g. land, labour, capital) and both market and non-market 'outputs' (used interchangeably with 'outcomes') (e.g. value of on-farm production, turtle biodiversity). The DEA analysis generated an 'efficiency score' for each farm; the best scores were associated with farms that used fewest inputs and had the 'best' outcome(s). We then looked for statistically significant relationships between those scores and other variables known to influence outcomes.

After controlling for biophysical factors (e.g. rainfall, soil type), we found little evidence of trade-offs between market and non-market outcomes. We found that farms with many weeds had poor market efficiency scores, suggesting that weed-reduction programmes could generate substantive co-benefits for agriculture and biodiversity. Properties managed by people who preferred a small steady income (over a large uncertain income) had higher non-market efficiency scores, suggesting a link between conservation and attitudes to risk. Our results also suggest that encouraging on-farm agricultural diversification, the adoption of environmentally focused land-management plans, and a generally more positive attitude towards conservation could improve environmental outcomes without compromising market outcomes.

Item ID: 39998
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-2917
Keywords: aquatic biodiversity; on-farm conservation; northern Australia; Data Envelopment Analysis; tradeoffs; trade-offs; cobenefits; co-benefits; agriculture; conservation; land management; on-farm conservation; diversification; weeds; pests
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Funders: National Environmental Research Program, James Cook University, Griffith University, Centre Tecnologic Forestal de Catalunya
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2015 01:20
FoR Codes: 14 ECONOMICS > 1402 Applied Economics > 140201 Agricultural Economics @ 40%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070106 Farm Management, Rural Management and Agribusiness @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960904 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Land Management @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960807 Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960910 Sparseland, Permanent Grassland and Arid Zone Land and Water Management @ 40%
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