Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce came to Wauchope to announce a project which puts a value on Australia’s natural resources.
Forest and Wood Products Australia will get $900,000 for a project to apply Natural Capital Accounting on forestry, cotton and fisheries enterprises.
Natural Capital Accounting is an internationally recognised way of calculating the value of natural assets like soil, air, water and biodiversity.
That information can then be incorporated into economic models and accounting systems.
Minister Joyce said the project would give Australian forestry, cotton and fisheries producers the tools they need to incorporate the value of natural assets into their business systems.
The timber industry is a great industry; it's renewable and sustainable.
“Many financial institutions are increasingly considering natural capital in their credit risk calculations, and offer lower interest rates for businesses that can prove they are managing their land and other natural resources well.
“This project will not only help producers, like forestry businesses here in Wauchope, manage their natural resources well to increase productivity, it could also help them access cheaper finance, by giving them the tools they need to demonstrate best practice management of their natural assets,” he added.
The project is funded under Round 3 of the Rural R&D for Profit Programme.
Dr Gillespie said Australia’s forestry, cotton and fisheries industries are amongst the best managed and most sustainable in the world, but public misconceptions mean their credentials as good environmental stewards are often challenged.
“This project help these industries quantify and clearly demonstrate their environmental sustainability and clean and green credentials, which in turn will build consumer confidence and give them a competitive advantage in premium markets,” he said.
Jim Houghton from Forest Wood Products Australia said the project is terrific news for cotton, fisheries and rural industries which have all been working on a sustainable footing and will now be able to demonstrate that.
“It’s about trying to take all the environmental services that come from sustainable operations, to quantify them and putt a dollar value on them – the quality of the land, the water and the air,” he said.
Libby Pinkard from CSIRO said it’s a really exciting opportunity for CSIRO to be involved in very important research.
“There are potential opportunities for better environmental and economic outcomes for enterprises of interest to investors and purchasers of Australian products,” she said.
Anthony O’Grady from CSIRO Products said it would give primary producers access to premium markets and really build Brand Australia with processes which are sustainable into the future.