4632.0.55.001 - Discussion Paper: From Nature to the Table: Environmental-Economic Accounting for Agriculture, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/11/2017  First Issue
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This publication should be considered experimental, as improvements to methods and new data sources continue to become available. The ABS will be seeking input from key stakeholders with the intention of addressing issues and concerns in future updates.

The publication has been compiled entirely from previously collected information, both from ABS and non-ABS sources. These sources have been used attempt to complete environmental-economic account for the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries industries and activities for Australia using the draft System of Environmental-Economic Accounting for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (SEEA AFF) framework.

In most cases previously released ABS data have been directly used in this publication. However, in some cases existing ABS data have been modelled to achieve the geographical and conceptual characteristics required.

A range of non-ABS data has been used where ABS data is not available, or non-ABS data is more appropriate. For example data for the Greenhouse Gas emissions table is from the DotEE's AGEIS system as it aligns with the international reporting standards that the SEEA AFF framework requires. The use of this data has been cleared by the relevant agencies.

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The standards governing environmental-economic accounting ('environmental accounts') are agreed internationally and are described in the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA). The SEEA is endorsed by six key international economic and environmental organisations: the European Commission; the Food and Agriculture Organisation; the International Monetary Fund; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; the United Nations; and the World Bank.

The internationally endorsed framework and associated accounts described in the SEEA AFF are currently being developed by the FAO with endorsement from the UN Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA). This publication uses the March 2016 draft framework, which is the most current at the time of publishing. It is consistent with the SEEA Central Framework and the 2008 System of National Accounts (2008 SNA).

This discussion paper explores the population of the tables proposed in the SEEA AFF and provides commentary around current data availability as well as analysis of available data in the Australian context. There are significant data gaps in these accounts due to the range of information available at this time. A limited range of indicators within each account were compiled at this stage due to these limitations and a need for further consultation with the community. An additional period of stakeholder engagement and collaboration will be held to further identify stakeholder needs, and gather views on additional data sources and priorities. Where suitable, these data sources will be adopted or used to model expanded account information.


Estimates contained in these experimental accounts are largely presented on a financial year basis, however some data are presented on a calendar year basis due to data availability. Some of the estimates are sourced from well-developed data production systems, while other sources have only recently been developed. As a result, some of the data contained in this account are more timely than others, with the most recent data being available for the 2015-16 year and is therefore being released in this account 17 months after the reference period.

If ABS decides to pursue this work and parts of the SEEA AFF framework are adopted by policy makers following the release of this paper, then aspects of timeliness will be revisited (particularly in relation to priority indicators).


A key characteristic of environmental-economic accounting is the use of an internationally agreed framework and an aim for data coherence, both in relation to the various data sources used and with related economic accounts. The accounts within this discussion paper have been complied in accordance with SEEA frameworks, given one of the purposes of this paper is to explore and trial the SEEA AFF and it's usefulness in the Australian context.

An accounting framework such as the SEEA AFF differs from another set of environmental indicators. Whilst appropriate for their designed purpose, these data cannot readily be integrated with other environmental information or with economic or social information, limiting their potential usefulness. The SEEA AFF in contrast is based on the principles and structures of the SEEA, and represents a cohesive, integrated set of environmental and economic information.

Not all data utilised was on the same basis or exactly matched the concepts of SEEA AFF. This was flagged within the publication for transparency reasons.


The data presented here have been released in a number of different publications (ABS and non-ABS) and where possible has been confronted with other data. As such though, the accuracy of this publication is in some respect tied to the accuracy of the previously released estimates.

Where modelling has occurred care has been taken to be transparent about methods. The ABS has consulted with data custodians and topic specialists to ensure data presented have an acceptable accuracy. As part of the consultation with stakeholders following the release, the ABS seeks to improve the quality of the data used.


As this discussion paper seeks feedback on the suitability of the example framework for policy makers, commentary is provided for each section. The account uses commentary, tables, graphs and maps to guide reader understanding and interpretation of detailed data tables.

The ABS has included a glossary of terms to aid understanding and ensure consistency. Detailed explanatory notes are provided to assist users in interpreting and understanding the concepts and methods underlying the data.

The interpretation of environmental accounts is assisted by an understanding of the policy context in which these data are used. This is further elaborated in ABS Completing the Picture - Environmental Accounting in Practice (cat. no. 4628.0.55.001).


Data cubes, analysis and commentary are available on the ABS website <https://www.abs.gov.au>.

If the information you require is not available as a standard product or service, the ABS Consultancy Services can assist with customised services to suit your requirements. Inquiries should be made to the ABS Information Centre on 1300 135 070.