Natural capital, biodiversity, carbon markets. These words are increasingly being spoken, and yet many are still grappling to understand their fundamental meanings, their practical applications, and their value to business, the environment and communities more broadly.
Landholders have understood the importance of protecting the resources that underpin their production systems for many years. However, what is now more difficult to navigate are the emerging opportunities for landholders to complement farm income whilst achieving improved environmental outcomes.
In simple terms, where activities on a farm deliver broad benefits for society and communities, there are emerging opportunities for farmers to be financially rewarded for protecting those values. If planned well, there can be synergies between environmental protection, farm production systems and their profitability, as well as building sustainable futures for regional communities.
Farmers are doing a great job taking care of the nation’s agricultural land. The big challenge is how we can use technology, best practice and innovation to build sustainable farm enterprises, strong regional communities and achieve sound environmental outcomes.
By definition, natural capital is the stock of the earth’s renewable and non-renewable resources, including trees, soils, air, water and all living things. An Australian Bureau of Statistics valuation in 2019 reported that Australia’s natural assets are worth more than $6.5 trillion.
Many farmers are striving to become familiar with new technologies, emerging tools and data sets that can support the baselining, measurement and management of biodiversity, and to also evaluate future opportunities arising from investment in nature-based solutions.
Pull from global markets demanding a move towards demonstrated sustainable supply chains along with push from financiers and investors is driving increasing momentum in the natural capital and environmental space.
This is a time of both opportunity and risk. Many farmers are finding it difficult to navigate the emerging options available to them and to find trusted partners to work with.
If you are interested in learning more, take the opportunity to join QFF’s webinar on 13 March to hear our CEO Jo Sheppard and RCS Australia Founding Director Dr Terry McCosker OAM explore the topic of how farming businesses can increase production and business performance in step with ecological and social outcomes. To register, go to www.qff.org.au/events/
If we want to ensure long-term sustainability and growth for the agriculture sector, we need to ensure farmers are supported to increase productivity while producing environmental outcomes for the communities in which we live and work.