Measuring On-Farm Natural Capital

Industries around the world are adopting new performance standards such as triple-bottom line reporting. Perth NRM is investigating tools for applying environmental reporting in agriculture.

Natural Capital Accounting project with West Australian famers

Industries around the world are adopting new performance standards such as triple-bottom line reporting. Perth NRM is investigating tools for applying environmental reporting in agriculture.

Natural Capital is the stock of natural resources like vegetation, water, soils, and biodiversity that generate ecosystem services. Our farming enterprises are underpinned by Natural Capital through the generation of ecosystem services for food production. The land management practices of farmers are directly associated with the inherent value and productive capacity (natural capital) of agricultural land. Natural capital accounting (NCA) is emerging as a mechanism to account for the value of these natural assets.

 

For over two centuries, Australian landholders have invested in and managed properties for production and sale of agricultural commodities within various market arrangements that have ultimately focused on production with less consideration of the value of natural capital used in producing those goods, and, unfortunately, this natural capital has depreciated over time”

 

National Farmers’ Federation
Natural Capital Statement

The Perth NRM Natural Capital Accounting project aims to help identify how farmers can measure NC and how they can utilise that information in their decision making, and to communicate their environmental performance to their stakeholders.

NCA will provide a robust measurement and verification framework for determining the change in the condition of Natural Capital and the economic contribution of Natural Capital to our farming systems. Allowing for directed investment towards the adoption of farming practices that build NC. NCA also provides the information and comparability that is needed to access the ‘ethical consumer’ market, which rewards producers that are improving their ecosystems.

Sue Ogilvy’s presentation at the inaugural Regenerative Agriculture Conference in 2019 (#RAWA19) provides an overview of the development of Natural Capital Accounting as a step toward meeting United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Perth NRM is looking for 30 properties across WA to participate in a project that will help develop the tools, techniques, and measures to create a NCA framework* that will help guide policy and resources for the agricultural sector.

*NCA is aligned to the United Nations System of Environmental-Economic accounting used by governments for economic analysis and policy design.

What is involved in the Natural Capital Accounting project?

We will undertake on-farm assessments of the ecological assets of each property as well as the collection of farm production data (of up to 5 years). These assessments will focus on aspects of:

  • Remnant native vegetation, significant flora and fauna, ecological communities and critical habitat
  • Ground cover and general biodiversity
  • Soil sampling and analysis
  • Plant and produce sampling and analysis, including nutrient testing and residual chemical analysis

Participants will receive:

  • Results of the ecological assessments from their properties
  • Results of the soil, plant and produce analysis
  • A customised Natural Capital Accounting report. The NCA report will describe the contribution of the natural capital to the farming enterprise and will determine a baseline of the condition of the natural capital to allow for future assessments of the change in the condition of the natural capital overtime.

The partnership approach to this project includes:

  • Integrated futures
  • State NRM
  • Commonland
Partners

We acknowledge and appreciate the support of all our partners, supporters, funding bodies and sponsors.

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