SSR198 - Integrated assessment of wetland services and

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SSR198 - Integrated assessment of wetland services and

Transcript Of SSR198 - Integrated assessment of wetland services and


scientist report


Integrated assessment of wetland services and values as a tool to analyse policy trade-offs and management options: A case study in the Daly and Mary River catchments, northern Australia

Final Report September 2008
R de Groot, M Finlayson, B Verschuuren, O Ypma & M Zylstra

It is SSD policy for reports in the SSR series to be reviewed as part of the publications process. This Supervising Scientist Report has been formally refereed by one external independent expert.
Authors Rudolf de Groot – Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands Max Finlayson – Institute for Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia Bas Verschuuren – Earth Collective/Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD), The Netherlands Olga Ypma – Former MSc student, Wageningen University (WUR), The Netherlands Matthew Zylstra – Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands with contributions from former Wageningen University (WUR) MSc students Sophie Bachet, Clement Mabire & Pujan Shrestha
Email address for corresponding author: [email protected]
This report should be cited as follows: de Groot R, Finlayson M, Verschuuren B, Ypma O & Zylstra M 2008. Integrated assessment of wetland services and values as a tool to analyse policy trade-offs and management options: A case study in the Daly and Mary River catchments, northern Australia. Supervising Scientist Report 198, Supervising Scientist, Darwin NT.
The Supervising Scientist is part of the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. © Commonwealth of Australia 2008
Supervising Scientist Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts GPO Box 461, Darwin NT 0801 Australia ISSN 1325-1554 ISBN-13: 978-1-921069-09-3 ISBN-10: 1-921069-09-0 This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the Supervising Scientist. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to Publications Inquiries, Supervising Scientist, GPO Box 461, Darwin NT 0801. e-mail: [email protected] Internet: ( The views and opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect those of the Commonwealth of Australia. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the contents of this report are factually correct, some essential data rely on the references cited and the Supervising Scientist and the Commonwealth of Australia do not accept responsibility for the accuracy, currency or completeness of the contents of this report, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the report. Readers should exercise their own skill and judgment with respect to their use of the material contained in this report.
Printed and bound in Darwin by uniprint NT








Abbreviations and acronyms




1 Introduction


1.1 Background and problem statement


1.2 Research issues and objectives


1.3 Integrated assessment approach/framework


1.4 Study areas: the Daly and Mary River catchments


1.5 Research area delineations


2 Framework and guidelines for integrated assessment of

wetland services and values


2.1 Function analysis: inventory of wetland services


2.2 Valuation of wetland services


2.3 Stakeholder analysis and (participatory) assessment methods


2.4 Policy analysis


2.5 Management implications


3 Inventory of ecosystem services provided by wetlands in

the Northern Territory


3.1 Main wetland types in the Daly River and Mary River catchments


3.2 Overview of services provided by the wetlands in the

Northern Territory


3.3 Spatial distribution of the main services provided by the Daly and

Mary River wetlands


4 Ecological importance of wetlands in the Northern Territory


4.1 Diversity


4.2 Uniqueness/rarity of habitats and species


4.3 Naturalness/integrity


4.4 Connectivity



5 Socio-cultural importance of wetlands


5.1 Tools for assessing socio-cultural importance


5.2 Importance to human health


5.3 (Cultural) heritage


5.4 Spiritual and existence values


5.5 Recreation and tourism


5.6 Inspiration and expression


5.7 Sense of place


6 Economic value of goods and services


6.1 Total economic value


6.2 Economic value of provisioning services


6.3 Economic value of supporting services


6.4 Economic value of regulating services


6.5 Economic value of cultural and amenity services


7 Stakeholder analysis


7.1 Role of the main stakeholders in the use of the selected services


7.2 Effects of environmental change or human activities on the



7.3 Analysis of the views of the main stakeholders on water use


7.4 Trade-offs and conflict management


8 Policy and institutional analysis


8.1 Organisations (roles-oriented institutions)


8.2 Policies (rules-oriented institutions)


8.3 Policy interactions


8.4 Stakeholder involvement in policy development


9 Management implications


9.1 Awareness of ecosystem services and benefits


9.2 Implications of function analysis for management


9.3 Implications of function analysis for water management in the

Daly River catchment


9.4 Potential for ecosystem function analysis to be applied to wetland

management and planning in the Northern Territory



10 Discussion


10.1 Discussion of research results


10.2 Discussion of research methods and process (and approach)


11 Recommendations


11.1 Recommendations for further research


11.2 Recommendations for policy


11.3 Recommendations for management




Appendix 1 Indicators of sustainable use of wetland services*


Appendix 2 Main methods for stakeholder analysis and

participatory assessment used in this study


Appendix 3 Effects of main environmental issues on five

selected wetland services


Appendix 4 Links between management issues and threats to

wetland functions (Daly River catchment)



Table 1 Sub-components in the analysis of ecosystem services and

values of the Daly and Mary River wetlands


Table 2 Typology of ecosystem functions, goods and services


Table 3 Ecological valuation criteria and measurement indicators


Table 4 Typology of socio-cultural values and measurement units


Table 5 Monetary valuation methods, constraints and examples


Table 6 Methods used in the stakeholder analysis


Table 7 The typology of stakeholders on a macro- to micro-



Table 8 Methods for analysing different elements of policy and policy



Table 9 Focusing the research approach: a framework for

researching current management contexts


Table 10 Functions and services provided by or supported by

wetlands and floodplains in the Northern Territory



Table 11 Wetland types in the Daly and Mary River catchments

based on the typology used in the national wetland directory


Table 12 Rare and endemic fish species in the Daly River and Mary

River catchments


Table 13 Health benefits from interactions with nature


Table 14 Monetary value of ecosystem services provided by wetlands

in the Daly and Mary River catchments


Table 15 Example of main stakeholders using the selected wetland



Table 16 Interaction between the Fisheries Act and secondary

policies for fisheries


Table 17 Summary of most and least addressed wetland services in

management plans analysed


Table 18 Summary description of values for the water supply service

in the Daly River catchment



Figure 1 Location of the study areas


Figure 2 Conceptual framework for integrated assessment of wetland

functions, values and trade-offs


Figure 3 Types of values that can be attributed to ecosystem services


Figure 4 The total economic value framework


Figure 5 Total economic value of the main services provided by



Figure 6 Map of Daly River catchment


Figure 7 Map of Mary River catchment


Figure 8 Relative importance of the main categories of ecosystem

services in the total economic benefits


Figure 9 Stakeholder diagram of main parties concerned with the

water supply service in the Daly River catchment



This project was initiated in 2003 by Max Finlayson (eriss) and Rudolf de Groot
(Wageningen University), based on their input into the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment ( and as a component of the Tropical Rivers Inventory and Assessment Project (TRIAP) – an initiative of Land & Water Australia and the National Heritage Trust as part of the (Australian) National Rivers Consortium. The research was carried out between May 2004 and May 2005 by six MSc students from the Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands: Sophie Bachet and Clement Mabire (France), Pujan Shrestha (Nepal), Bas Verschuuren and Olga Ypma (The Netherlands) and Matt Zylstra (Australia).
The project was supported by the National Centre for Tropical Wetland Research (NCTWR) with specific input from researchers from the Environmental Research Institute of the
Supervising Scientist (eriss) and the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research
(ACTFR). Logistical and personnel support for the fieldwork in the Northern Territory,
Australia, was provided by eriss in Darwin and Jabiru.
We gratefully acknowledge the valuable assistance provided by eriss staff, Dr Peter Bayliss,
Maria Grazia Bellio, Caroline Camilleri, Dr Rick van Dam, Don Elphick, John Lowry and Joan Mount, as well as Alicia Hogan and Claudia Sauerland for providing accommodation.
We would also like to extend our thanks to all staff from eriss who regularly and willingly
assisted in various capacities and welcomed the research group into the organisation.
We want to especially thank Emma Woodward for her daily supervision and support during the fieldwork between July and October 2004. Emma’s enthusiasm and commitment to the role of project coordinator in smoothing logistics, identifying research avenues as well as providing useful perspectives and valuable assistance in understanding both the background and newly acquired information in the context of the ecological and social situation in the Northern Territory was much appreciated.
In Wageningen, The Netherlands, we want to thank Mishka Stuip for the considerable time invested in project coordination during the preparation phases.
Finally, we would like to sincerely thank the 50 or more interviewees (or ‘stakeholders’) including government employees, academics, community members and landholders who selflessly gave their time and patience in assisting our understanding of the issues and the values individuals attach to the wetlands in the Northern Territory. Their input was essential to the outcomes of this research.
Note on stakeholder quotes
Unless otherwise stated, all references to personal communication throughout the report were received during stakeholder interviews undertaken between July–October 2004. Many interviewees expressed a desire for their comments to remain as anonymous statements unless permission was sought in advance to use them otherwise. Therefore, due to limitations in recontacting interviewees, all quotes used respect these wishes and have been kept anonymous for this report. A database of all interviews is retained on a confidential basis by the author(s); therefore, queries regarding the use of statements or the accuracy of statements themselves should be directed to the author via the correspondence email address provided on the title pages.

Abbreviations and acronyms


Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority Amateur Fishermens Association of the Northern Territory Contingent Valuation Method Department of Business and Employment Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment Driving Forces (D), Pressures (P), State (S), Impacts (I) and Responses (R) Daly River Community Reference Group Department of Regional Development, Primary Industry, Fisheries and Resources Gross Primary Productivity Integrated Natural Resources Management International Union for Nature Conservation Katherine Horticultural Association Mary River Catchment Advisory Committee Net Primary Productivity Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport Northern Territory Buffalo Industry Council Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association Northern Territory Horticultural Association Total Economic Value


In this report we present the results of a study carried out between May 2004 and May 2005 as a contribution to the Tropical Rivers Inventory and Assessment Project (TRIAP) of Australia’s Tropical Rivers Program. The aim was to provide a framework for the analysis of the ecosystem services provided by the wetland and riverine ecosystems of northern Australia. The analyses drew heavily on the conceptual framework provided by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) where ecosystem services were defined as ‘the benefits people obtain from ecosystems’. These benefits include: provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services such as nutrient cycling that maintain the conditions for life on earth. The term ‘ecosystem services’ is now broadly used to encompass what can also be referred to as ecosystem goods and services and/or ecosystem functions and, at times, also environmental services. For the purposes of this report – given that the study was undertaken using the recognised ‘function analysis framework’ – the terms ecosystem services and functions are considered to be interchangeable unless a distinction is made otherwise.
In accordance with the above, an assessment of the ecosystem services and values (ecological, socio-cultural and economic) of selected wetlands in northern Australia (with a focus on the Daly and Mary River catchments) was undertaken and the results incorporated into a practical framework and guidelines for integrated assessment and valuation of wetland services. Relevant policies and management strategies that address wetland functions and services in the Daly and Mary River catchments were analysed and trade-offs that contributed to the development of options for the sustainable ‘multi-functional use’ of the wetlands highlighted.
The assessment entailed consultation and active involvement with many stakeholders, such as governmental organisations, local associations and corporations, NGOs and community-based groups, and land-owners and managers to collect information and incorporate their views and respective interests. As this was a pilot study, the level of focus was primarily at the institutional level; more interviews would be needed to sufficiently quantify results on an individual basis, for example, for farming or Aboriginal communities. The benefits of this approach were multiple in that it enabled the collation and analysis of existing information that could be used to support existing conservation, natural resource management, and social initiatives within the study areas and identified information gaps. In this respect it was based on the outcomes and approaches suggested in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment for undertaking social and ecosystem-based analyses in complex systems.
Results and conclusions
The following section provides an overview of the main results obtained through the application of the integrated assessment approach in the Daly and Mary River case studies.
1 Main ecosystem services
Many ecosystem services derived from or provided by the wetlands were identified. The main services provided by the wetlands were: (1) Provisioning services: 1a) Carrier functions, including use of (wetland) space for, amongst other activities, agriculture (cattle, buffalo), horticulture, crocodile farming, aquaculture, and mining (eg sand, gold); 1b) Production functions: harvesting natural resources such as food (eg bush tucker), commercial and

subsistence fishing, medicinal resources, raw materials, and ornamental resources (eg wood and leaves for handicraft); (2) Supporting services: including the provision of important habitat for wildlife and nursery areas for many taxa as well as soil formation and retention; (3) Regulating services: covering the critical role of ecological and biophysical processes such as climate regulation, water supply (for flora, fauna and human use), regulating runoff, erosion control, disturbance prevention, nutrient regulation and waste treatment (water quality regulation), and biological control; (4) Cultural and amenity services: including important non-material benefits such as aesthetic information, recreation and tourism (boating, fishing, wildlife viewing, etc), spiritual and historic information, cultural and artistic information, and use in science and education.
It was established that local communities and other stakeholders were highly dependent on Northern Territory wetlands in many ways. As it was not possible to deal equally with all the ecosystem services identified, especially those in the regulation category, these (such as climate and nutrient regulation) have not been discussed further.
2 Ecological importance (value)
Both the Daly and Mary River catchments possess many wetlands of national importance that provide essential habitat for rare and endemic species, eg the freshwater whipray (Himantura chaophyra), bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) and bamboo (Bambusa arnhemica), and provide seasonal habitat refuge for many residential and migratory species, including birds such as the little curlew (Numenius minutus) and the magpie goose (Anseranas semipalmata), and fish such as the barramundi (Lates calcarifer). The wetlands experience a markedly seasonal climate and flooding/drying regime and are extremely productive and support many plants and animals. The ecological value of the wetlands would qualify them for listing as ‘internationally important’ under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, as has occurred for the wetlands in nearby Kakadu National Park.
3 Socio-cultural importance (value)
Human well-being and wetland ecosystems are inextricably connected through non-material and anthropocentric values and many stakeholders attach socio-cultural importance to the wetlands in the Northern Territory. In this study, a typology was developed to identify socio­ cultural values, including cultural heritage, spiritual and existence values, inspiration and expression, knowledge, sense of place, aesthetic quality and recreation.
4 Economic importance (value)
The current economic benefits provided by the main identified ecosystem services have been estimated at A$50.7 million for the Mary River catchment (approx A$450/ha) and A$82.4 million for the Daly River catchment (approx A$230/ha). These are relatively low figures compared to values found in literature for wetlands which on average are estimated at US$3000 (approx A$4000)1 per ha/year or more. This was due to several factors: (a) monetary values were estimated for only 10 of 27 possible ecosystem services, (b) only net-values have been used (gross values, including effects on labour and capital investments would be at least five times higher); and (c) in case several values were found for one service, the lowest figure was used. The four economically most important ecosystem services identified and estimated were: carbon sequestration: A$87 million (based on expressed
1 Using an exchange rate of 1 Australian dollar = 0.75 US dollars for the period of the study (2004/2005).
WetlandsServicesEcosystem ServicesValuesDaly