Short Virtual Presentation & Digital Poster 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2021

Incorporating human dimension in water quality modelling: accounting for levels of adoption and co-benefits (#17)

Nick Marsh 1 , Rachel Eberhard 2 , Billie Gordon 3
  1., West End, Qld, Australia
  2. Eberhard Consulting, Dutton Park, Qld, Australia
  3. Queensland Department of Environment and Science, Brisbane, Qld, Australia
  • The use of biophysical models to guide investment priorities in natural resource management (NRM) programs is well established for water quality. However, this approach neglects the important ‘human dimensions’ of NRM programs where landholder responses are complex and variable. Investments are also likely to generate ‘co-benefits’ in addition to the primary objective, and these are rarely accounted for in investment planning.
  • We used an existing approach that prioritises NRM investments in Great Barrier Reef catchments to maximise the cost-effectiveness of water quality outcomes. We applied a project adoption likelihood filter to predict a more realistic water quality benefit that accounts for the likelihood and time lags of adoption by farmers. We also developed and applied a co-benefits scoring system to allow for the reporting of co-benefits as well as water quality outcomes.
  • We discovered significant methodological challenges to measuring and aggregating co-benefits, but support for a pragmatic framework that enables a flexible approach to populating and refining social, economic and biophysical co-benefit measures over time.
  • The project demonstrates how multiple benefits can be simultaneously considered as part of investment planning processes. When considered in isolation, a single NRM benefit may offer marginal investment potential, but when a broader suite of co-benefits are considered the full value of NRM investments can be explored.
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