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ENVIRONMENTAL ACCOUNTING FRAMEWORK
4 Environmental-economic accounting is a method of integrating environmental data with economic and, to a lesser degree, social data. The System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) is an environmental-economic accounting framework developed by the United Nations Statistics Division. The SEEA Central Framework was adopted as an international statistical standard in early 2012, while a draft of the SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting was released in November 2012. This publication has been produced in accordance with the SEEA and follows previous Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) environmental-economic accounting publications utilising this system: Australian Environmental-Economic Accounts, 2014 (cat. no. 4655.0); Land Account: Great Barrier Reef Region, Experimental Estimates, 2014 (cat. no. 4609.0.55.001); Land Account: Victoria, Experimental Estimates, 2012 (cat. no. 4609.0.55.002); Land Account: Queensland, Experimental Estimates, 2013 (cat. no. 4609.0.55.003); Energy Account, Australia, 2012-13 (cat. no. 4604.0); and Water Account, Australia, 2012-13 (cat. no. 4610.0).
5 For further information on environmental-economic accounting please refer to the ABS Information Papers: Completing the Picture - Environmental Accounting in Practice, May 2012 (cat. no. 4628.0.55.001); Information Paper: Towards the Australian Environmental-Economic Accounts, 2013 (cat. no. 4655.0.55.002); Information Paper: What are Environmental Accounts?, 2008 (cat. no. 4655.0.55.001); Towards an Integrated Environmental-Economic Account for Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 4655.0.55.001); and the United Nations Statistical Division.
COVERAGE AND GEOGRAPHY
6 This release presents an experimental ecosystem account for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Region in Queensland and the associated Natural Resource Management (NRM) Regions which lie adjacent to and drain into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The NRM regions include: Burdekin, Burnett Mary, Fitzroy, Mackay Whitsunday Wet Tropics Cape York. Note that the Cape York NRM Region was divided and only the basins draining eastwards were considered in scope. Figure 1 shows a map of the study region.
FIGURE 1: STUDY REGION - GREAT BARRIER REEF REGION
7 The choice of spatial boundaries is a key consideration in ecosystem accounting. For the terrestrial areas of the study region, Natural Resource Management (NRM) Regions and Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) have been used.
8 For the marine areas the choice was less clear and the experience with accounting for marine systems is more limited than for terrestrial systems. For the marine areas of the Great Barrier Reef, data are collected or presented according to a number of different spatial boundaries. The boundaries identified include:
9 The boundaries used for aggregation and output of data in this publication for the marine area are the GBRMPA management sectors and terrestrial NRM boundary extensions across the marine area, as shown in Figures 2 and 3 below.
10 National level data from the ABS Australian System of National Accounts (cat. no. 5204.0) and Tourism Satellite Account (cat. no. 5249.0) have been broken down to a regional level using proxy data items for regional activity in tourism and in agriculture.
11 For food provisioning services, the proxy item for splitting national data to NRM Regions is the Gross Value of Agricultural Production. This has been derived from publications based on the ABS Agricultural Survey and Agricultural Census (see cat. nos. 7111.0 and 7501.0).
12 For cultural services from tourism, small area information on tourist expenditure was derived from the Tourism Research Australia collections: the International Visitors Survey (IVS) and National Visitors Survey (NVS). These are published by Tourism Research Australia as regional profiles using a tourism region geography which is different from NRM Regions. However, the large sample size of these collections supports estimates at a smaller level which were aggregated to the required output boundaries.
13 The use of proxies means estimates are built on an assumption that the regional distribution of the proxy data item is a suitable indicator for the distribution of related economic variables. This method treats the proportional relationships between different factors of production as uniform across the country.
FIGURE 2. TERRESTRIAL AND MARINE NRM REGIONS OF THE GREAT BARRIER REEF REGION
FIGURE 3. GBRMPA MANAGEMENT SECTORS
14 This publication was produced using information from a number of Commonwealth and State Government Departments, as well as academic papers and research. The ABS gratefully acknowledges the assistance provided from these organisations. The data sources are listed below for each section:
Fishing and Aquaculture
Net Primary Productivity:
Cultural Services - Tourism
15 The Marine Monitoring Program collects data and reports on coral, seagrass and water condition as part of Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Reef Plan). The plan is guided by Scientific Consensus Statements compiled by experts in the field aimed at measuring and reducing the impact of terrestrial activities upon water quality and marine condition.
16 Coral, water quality and seagrass condition reported in this publication is sourced from the Reef Plan Report Card series.
17 Hard coral cover is collected as part of both Marine Monitoring Program and the Long Term Monitoring Program of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Data for both programmes was provided by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, with hard coral cover percentage averaged per reef and a geocode attached to each location. Reefs were then allocated to the output areas of Marine NRM Regions and GBRMPA Management Sectors using ArcGIS and averaged per output region using the reported mean cover.
18 For coral, the Marine Monitoring Program data collection occurs between May and October each year. While a split of observations within each season to attribute condition to financial years is possible, it was deemed not in keeping with the design of their sampling methodology and thus calendar years were reported. Users are encouraged to provide feedback on the utility of a mix of calendar and financial year reporting periods.
19 Terrestrial NRM Regions extend beyond the low tide mark and into the marine portion of the account, but do not extend to the limit of the Marine Park. The extension of these boundaries, from a few kilometres offshore to the limit of the Marine Park, is currently an arbitrary exercise in the application of a straight line to the offshore boundary of the Marine Park. This is an area for improvement in the development of these accounts.
Fishing and Aquaculture
20 Data reported in tables for fishing and aquaculture was delivered in aggregate form, customised to NRM boundaries by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QLD DAF). Data reported in Map 2.1 was acquired through the QFISH data portal of QLD DAF. The change in physical production for each grid cell between 2000-01 and 2012-13 was calculated and mapped in ArcGIS using grid boundaries acquired from QSpatial - the Queensland Government Spatial Catalogue.
21 The Ecosystem Service value for fishing and aquaculture is calculated in accordance with the SEEA Central Framework method for calculating Resource Rent. This rent equates to the value of an ecosystem service, or the contribution of the ecosystem to benefit.
22 The box below summarises the calculations performed to derive estimates of the Ecosystem Service (Resource Rent) for ANZSIC06 Group 041 Fishing:
23 The same methodology has been used to derive estimates of the Ecosystem Service (Resource Rent) for ANZSIC06 Subdivision 02 Aquaculture, and is summarised below:
24 Fishing data for the region is publicly available from QLD DAF fishing log book grid. QLD DAF employs strict confidentiality for their data, and suppresses values for areas and time periods where five or less vessels were operating.
25 Data on river loads for catchments in the GBR Region were provided by the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA). The Net Primary Productivity estimates were produced from the BIOS2 model developed by the CSIRO.
26 The Dynamic Land Cover Dataset (DLCD) version 2 beta has been used in this publication to map land cover change. The DLCD is the first nationally consistent and thematically comprehensive land cover reference for Australia. It is the result of collaboration between Geoscience Australia and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES), and provides a base-line for identifying and reporting on change and trends in vegetation cover and extent. The DLCD version 2 beta was provided by Geoscience Australia as a 250 m x 250 m grid for Australia. Within DLCD, each grid cell is attributed with a land cover type based on dominance for the reference period.
27 The DLCD shows Australia's land cover grouped into 33 classes. These reflect the structural character of vegetation, ranging from cultivated and managed land covers (crops and pastures) to natural land covers such as forest and grasslands.
28 Using ESRI ArcMap™software, the DLCD version 2 beta datasets for 2008-09 and 2010-11 were combined, generating a unique value for each combination of land cover change. The land area of each unique combination that changed from one land cover class to another was then calculated for each NRM Region.
29 For the purposes of developing the accounts for this section, 'species' are defined as organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. For marine and terrestrial mammals, the Atlas of Living Australia was used to determine species lists for the GBR Region. The list was then matched against the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species to determine the threat status. Note that the Red List presents threat status at the global level and not specifically for regions such as the Great Barrier Reef.
30 For marine fish species a similar process was undertaken using the Reef Life Survey. This survey provided data on species lists and numbers with location information (latitude and longitude) which was allocated to the GBR NRM Regions. This list was then matched against the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species to determine the threat status.
31 The impacts of threatening processes can be very different according to scale. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was designed for global assessments which may be different when applied to regional or local levels.
32 The impacts of threatening processes can vary over time, and different species can react in different time frames. For example, whales can live for up to 100 years, reproduce at 5-10 year intervals, breed every 2-3 years and gestate for up to a year, while marine fish only live from a few years to about 10 years. Species accounts should allow for the differences in these life histories.
33 Estimates for the GBR Region for agricultural production were sourced from the ABS Agricultural Census and Agricultural Surveys. The valuation of the Ecosystem Service was derived from National Accounts data compiled for the whole of Australia, and have been apportioned to the GBR Region using ABS Agricultural Surveys as a proxy. This method assumes that the values and proportional relationships between different factors of production are, for the Agriculture industry, uniform across regions.
34 As with Fishing and Aquaculture, the Ecosystem Service for ANZSIC06 Subdivision 01 Agriculture is calculated in accordance with the SEEA Central Framework method for calculating Resource Rent. The box below summarises the calculations performed:
35 Note that regional estimates of agriculture production is the sum of agricultural output from the six NRM Regions which constitute the GBR Region. These data have been obtained from the ABS publication, Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia (cat. no. 7503.0) for the period, 2007-08 to 2012-13. The time series was extended back to 2001-02 using national movements in selected agricultural products.
36 As with Fishing, Aquaculture and Agriculture, the Tourism Rent was calculated in accordance with the SEEA Central Framework method for calculating Resource Rent:
37 The Ecosystem Service was first calculated for tourism at the national level, and then the share of tourism production in the GBR Region was estimated. Tourism Research Australia's State Tourism Satellite Account was the major data source - this publication provided state level data from the International Visitors Survey, National Visitors Survey, ABS Tourism Satellite Account and ABS State Accounts data. It includes estimates of key variables in tourism such as Direct Tourism Consumption, Tourism Gross Value Added and employment counts.
38 Offshore tourism expenditure was measured via data on the Environmental Management Charge for entry to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. This represents the exchange value of the offshore Reef area, showing what people actually pay to access the area's ecosystem services.
39 Tourism Research Australia publishes information by tourist region on experiences by visitors. These regions use a different spatial boundary to the NRM Regions used in this publication. While this makes comparisons difficult it does provide information about what share of visitors to a region are having experiences of different kinds (i.e. Culture and heritage, Nature based, Indigenous, and Food and wine). In the Whitsundays tourist region (which is smaller than the Mackay Whitsundays NRM Region), 40 per cent of domestic overnight visitors had 'Nature based' experiences and 75 per cent had 'Food and wine' experiences. For international visitors, the shares were 96 per cent undertaking 'Nature based' experiences and 95 per cent 'Food and wine' experiences, as well as 43 per cent having Indigenous experiences.
40 It would be difficult to determine from information about experiences, a share of the overall 'tourism rent' estimate for ecosystem services. Experience categories aren't mutually exclusive, and particular experiences may not be the motivating factor behind a specific choice of destination. For example, a visitor may choose to come to the Whitsundays primarily to visit beaches and go diving, and thus be there specifically to enjoy the cultural ecosystem services the region provides. Regardless, they will also presumably have specific culinary experiences that are probably attributable to the ecosystem service. Calculating each share of the ecosystem service could be undertaken based on visitor counts or by expenditure information if data were available at sufficient detail about the primary motivator for visitors. Such a collection may be available for some specific areas of special interest, but is unlikely to be collected in a systematic way due to resource and provider burden constraints.
41 Regional breakdowns have been undertaken solely on the basis of tourism information from Tourism Research Australia surveys. Regional breakdowns of National Accounts data could be improved with the availability of small-area estimates of Gross Value Added, Compensation of Employees, Capital Stock etc. The future availability of such data would allow for individual regional ratios to be estimated for different variables, instead of the same ratio being used for all data items.
42 The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is responsible for managing the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. While the agencies funding is currently excluded from estimates in this publication, it could be included in the valuation of the suite of ecosystem services in the GBR Region.
43 Where appropriate, data has been suppressed to prevent the release of any information that may identify any individual or organisation.
44 The following classifications and manuals were used in this publication:
45 The Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) is an interim classification for ecosystem services drafted by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The classification system is disaggregated by the type of ecosystem service, and includes the following levels of detail: (a) section; (b) division: (c) group; and (d) class. Ecosystem services present in the GBR Region can be categorised according to relevant CICES classifications, particularly at the class level of detail. It should be noted that there is overlap of provisioning, regulatory and cultural services between different classes.
46 Provisioning services reflect contributions to the benefits produced by or in the ecosystem, for example a fish, or a plant with pharmaceutical properties. The associated benefits may be provided in agricultural systems, as well as within semi-natural and natural ecosystems.
47 Regulating services result from the capacity of ecosystems to regulate climate, hydrological and bio-chemical cycles, earth surface processes, and a variety of biological processes. These services are also commonly referred to as 'regulation and maintenance services'. These two terms are synonymous in the context of the definition of ecosystem services used in SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting.
48 Cultural services relate to the intellectual and symbolic benefits that people obtain from ecosystems through recreation, knowledge development, relaxation, and spiritual reflection.
49 The Red List Categories and Criteria System has been designed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This system is used to determine the relative risk of extinction under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This list provides taxonomic, conservation status and distribution information on plants, fungi and animals. The diagram below summarises the features of this system:
The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria
Source: International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
50 The system is used to categorise species by species status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; this list provides taxonomic, conservation status and distribution information on plants, fungi and animals. Those categories used in the species tables are as follows:
51 The main purpose of the IUCN Red List is to catalogue and highlight those plants and animals that are facing a higher risk of global extinction; that is, those listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable. The IUCN Red List also includes information on plants, fungi and animals that are categorised as Extinct or Extinct in the Wild; on taxa that cannot be evaluated because of insufficient information (i.e., are Data Deficient); and on plants, fungi and animals that are either close to meeting the threatened thresholds or that would be threatened were it not for an ongoing taxon-specific conservation programme (i.e. are Near Threatened).
52 The Natural Resource Management (NRM) Regions are administrative regions primarily used to report on the Australian Government's Caring for our Country investments but are also used for environmental and agricultural reporting. They are based on catchments or bioregions. The boundaries of NRM Regions are managed by the Commonwealth Department of Environment. NRM Regions change occasionally as States and Territories revise their boundaries.
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