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Australia's National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality: a retrospective assessment

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  • David J. Pannell
  • Anna M. Roberts

Abstract

Perceptions of a salinity ‘crisis’ in Australia around 2000 resulted in the establishment of a major national program that aimed to prevent, stabilize, and reverse trends in salinity. The National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality allocated A$1.4 billion of public funds to 1700 projects over 7 years. Here, we assess the performance of the program in relation to 12 features that we propose as being essential for programs that aim to address complex environmental problems. The features include use of technical information to guide investment prioritization, use of socio-economic information, effective integration of information for prioritization, selection of appropriate targets, choice of appropriate policy mechanisms, and provision of incentives and support to environmental managers to pursue environmental outcomes cost effectively. Our assessment reinforces findings from a number of public reviews that found serious weaknesses in the program. Overall, with a few exceptions, projects under the National Action Plan generated few worthwhile salinity mitigation benefits and will have little enduring benefit. This was readily foreseeable given attention to the scientific and economic knowledge of salinity available at the time the program was developed.
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  • David J. Pannell & Anna M. Roberts, 2010. "Australia's National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality: a retrospective assessment ," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 54(4), pages 437-456, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ajarec:v:54:y:2010:i:4:p:437-456
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1467-8489.2010.00504.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Pannell, David J. & Wilkinson, Roger, 2009. "Policy mechanism choice for environmental management by non-commercial "lifestyle" rural landholders," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(10), pages 2679-2687, August.
    2. Pannell, David J. & McFarlane, Donald J. & Ferdowsian, Ruhi, 2001. "Rethinking the externality issue for dryland salinity in Western Australia," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 45(3), September.
    3. Pannell, David J. & Ewing, Michael A., 2006. "Managing secondary dryland salinity: Options and challenges," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(1-3), pages 41-56, February.
    4. O'Connell, Michael & Young, John & Kingwell, Ross, 2006. "The economic value of saltland pastures in a mixed farming system in Western Australia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 371-389, September.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. 210 – Under-estimating the costs of environmental protection
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-03-19 17:00:00
    2. 213 – The environmental planning fallacy
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-04-30 02:33:38
    3. 216 – Diminishing marginal benefits of economics
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-05-21 00:22:48
    4. 219 – Valuing environmental intangibles, part 2: The pro’s
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-07-01 18:17:52
    5. 210 – Under-estimating the costs of environmental protection
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-03-19 04:48:04
    6. 223 – Leadership
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-09-02 17:45:17
    7. 226 – Modelling versus science
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-10-15 23:00:17
    8. 227 – ‘Disadoption’ after a project ends
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-10-22 05:35:49
    9. 228 – Majority opinion
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-11-22 06:31:54
    10. 235 – Ranking environmental projects 1
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2013-04-30 21:03:56
    11. 274 – Tokenistic policies
      by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2014-10-13 20:00:25

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Duncan MacEwan & Richard Howitt & Josué Medellín-Azuara, 2016. "Combining Physical and Behavioral Response to Salinity," Water Economics and Policy (WEP), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 2(01), pages 1-25, March.
    2. Star, Megan & Rolfe, John & Beutel, Terry & McCosker, Kev & Ellis, Robin & Coughlin, Tom, 2016. "Natural resource management planning: can more cost effective outcomes be achieved," 2016 Conference (60th), February 2-5, 2016, Canberra, Australia 235624, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    3. Pannell, David J., 2013. "Ranking Environmental Projects," Working Papers 156482, University of Western Australia, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    4. repec:eee:ecoser:v:1:y:2012:i:1:p:111-120 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Juliane Haensch & Sarah Ann Wheeler & Alec Zuo & Henning Bjornlund, 2016. "The Impact of Water and Soil Salinity on Water Market Trading in the Southern Murray–Darling Basin," Water Economics and Policy (WEP), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 2(01), pages 1-26, March.
    6. Pannell, David J., 2015. "Ranking Projects for Water-Sensitive Cities," Working Papers 204263, University of Western Australia, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    7. MacEwan, Duncan & Howitt, Richard E., 2012. "Behavioral Salinity Response: Estimating Salinity Policies from Remote Sensed Micro-Data," 2012 Conference (56th), February 7-10, 2012, Freemantle, Australia 124331, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    8. Rolfe, John & Windle, Jill, 2016. "Estimating supply functions for agri-environmental schemes: Water quality and the Great Barrier Reef," 2016 Conference (60th), February 2-5, 2016, Canberra, Australia 235510, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    9. Joseph, Shanthi & Bhave, Mrinal & Miller, Joseph T. & Murphy, Daniel J., 2013. "Rapid Identification of Acacia Species With Potential Salt Tolerance by Using Nuclear Ribosomal DNA Markers," Sustainable Agriculture Research, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 2(4).

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