|There is an
increasing global awareness of the value of a healthy environment. This is
apparent in the number of eco-tours now available; tourism with a soft
impact on the landscape. Intact, bio-rich environments are increasing in
economic worth and replacing the extractive industries as income
generators and sources of community wealth. This is apparent in Hyams
Beach, as property values have rapidly escalated, functions of scarcity
and the declaration of adjoining bushland as a national park.
of extractive activities are finding that the increased community
awareness of the environment as an economic asset, a cost-effective
way of jeopardising their projects. Environmental issues can generate
considerable emotion and hostility between the differing factions.
Stimulating the debate lies the need for the global community to
continue to improve the standard of living. Petroleum products are
still needed which continues to pose a threat of drilling on the Great
Barrier Reef. Paper pulp and timber is still needed and the extraction
has generated very strong anti-forestry responses. We can see this
across a number of global needs; power generation (uranium mining),
food (overfishing), clothing (cotton chemical’s), water (increasing
world shortage), environmental warming (carbon and other emissions):
we are at a critical stage in our evolution. Continue extracting and
kill the earth, stop extracting and return to the caves, or find an
intelligent balance so that the global bio-diversity continues to
evolve and develop positively. Environmental accounting is a useful
way to measure the impacts and decide on courses of action.
The diagram presents one
model of environmental accounting bringing balance to environmental
economics. The model is somewhat glib in that terms such as ‘community
re-engineering’ can become unpleasant. The Eden (NSW)
community re-engineered during the Harris-Daishowa wood chipping
controversy and the outcome was sometimes violent.
of the economic benefits of caring for the environment are substantial.
The NPWS estimate that:
The contribution of koalas to the tourism industry is … $1.1 billion
per year or 9,000 jobs.
Whale watching is a $50 million a year industry in Australia, while on
a global scale, whale and dolphin-based tourism is worth US$550
The annual economic value of Dorrigo National Park is $5.4 million
contributing to 8.4 % of regional employment.
In Queensland, it has been estimated that
the average hectare of mangrove habitat is worth $8,000 annually in
The financial benefit of water supplied to Melbourne from forested
catchments has been valued at $250 million per year.
(NPWS, 1999: 4-5)
Contrast these with
some of the costs:
72% of NSW is affected by some form of land degradation.
salinity costs $243 million per year in lost agricultural production.
decline is costing Australian farmers around $200 million annually.
The cost to
Australia of lost agricultural production, decreased quality and
control measures due to weeds is estimated at $3.3 billion per annum.
(NPWS, 1999: 5)
experiencing declining regional and agricultural economies. Remnant
populations isolated in shrinking country towns are faced with
unsympathetic urban communities refusing the rural subsidies. Self-help
and intelligent strategies are replacing the older call for subsidies.
Hyden in Western Australia initiated a community improvement of the local
economy and is a useful role model.
benefits listed above all touch on Jervis Bay and Hyams Beach. It is the
habitat of three endangered fauna species and a number of flora species,
which if fostered and marketed well, will attract eco-tourists. The clean
water of the Bay is world famous for skindiving. There is a growing
porpoise watching fleet. The combined economic value of Booderee and
Jervis Bay National Parks is substantial. There are 12 sites listed in the
Register of the National Estate. The proximity to Sydney adds value to an
already richly endowed area. However, there are other places in Australia
with their unique natural attributes and using the environmental
accounting model, appropriate environmental strategies can be developed to
replace the degradation.