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Cost sharing for biodiversity conservation: A conceptual framework

Staff research paper

This paper by Barbara Aretino, Paula Holland, Anna Matysek and Deborah Peterson was released on 11 May 2001, similtaneously with the consultancy report, A Duty of Care for the Protection of Biodiversity on Land. The paper discusses the principles for sharing the costs of conservation between individuals, groups and the general community. It illustrates situations in which the different cost sharing principles may be relevant and highlights some issues that arise in determining who should pay for biodiversity conservation.

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  • Media release
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Clarifying landholders' property rights or their 'duty of care' for the environment is an important first step in deciding who should pay for conservation on private land, according to two reports released by the Productivity Commission today.

The Commission's staff research paper, Cost Sharing for Biodiversity Conservation: A Conceptual Framework, discusses principles for sharing the costs of conservation between individuals, groups and the general community.

According to the paper, property rights determine the responsibilities as well as the rights of users over resources. 'Depending on how they are defined, property rights could imply that individuals are required to meet certain environmental standards', said Neil Byron, Commissioner. The paper suggests that property rights are not always clear, leading to confusion and disputation, and further work - such as research and public discussion - is needed to clarify them.

A consultancy report by Dr Gerry Bates of the Australian Centre for Environmental Law, A Duty of Care for the Protection of Biodiversity on Land, says that a statutory duty of care on landholders can offer considerable benefits in protecting the environment. It suggests that such a duty of care should be tied to environmental standards and codes of practice, so that landholders could have greater certainty about their responsibilities for the environment.

Both reports recognise the contribution of private sector conservation in preventing biodiversity loss. 'Establishing an appropriate cost sharing framework is essential to ensure best use of public and private funds, and to achieve the full potential contribution of biodiversity conservation on private lands', said Dr Byron.

The reports form part of a stream of work being undertaken by the Productivity Commission in relation to private incentives for the conservation of biodiversity. They build on inquiries conducted by the Commission into Ecologically Sustainable Land Management and Ecologically Sustainable Development.

Background Information

02 6240 3330

Cover, Copyright, Contents, Glossary, Key Points, Overview

1 Introduction
1.1 What is biodiversity conservation?
1.2 Paying for biodiversity conservation - what is cost sharing?
1.3 The structure of this report

2 Market incentives to conserve biodiversity
2.1 The market for biodiversity conservation
2.2 A potential role for governments?
2.3 Summary

3 Cost sharing principles
3.1 'Polluter (impacter) pays' principle
3.2 'Beneficiary pays' principle
3.3 Summary

4 Some practical considerations
4.1 Clarifying property rights and responsibilities
4.2 Applying the 'impacter pays' principle
4.3 Applying the 'beneficiary pays' principle
4.4 Ensuring compliance
4.5 Summary