The methodology used – created by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists – has been gaining attention Australia-wide, with speculation mounting that Econd could become a tradable commodity, similar to carbon credits. As is the case with carbon credits, Econds have the potential to underpin future biodiversity markets and return financial benefits for effective conservation management outcomes.
After two years of applying the methodology to Five Rivers Reserve, in 2017 the TLC converted monitoring data for key assets into Econds on a scale of 0 to 100 to show relative change over time. The Environmental Account has been featured in the federal government’s National Environmental and Accounting Strategy Action Plan – a first for a conservation organisation.
The TLC’s Head of Science Dr Sally Bryant showcased the TLC’s Environmental Account for Five Rivers Reserve at the 2018 Australian Land Conservation Alliance Private Land Conference.
“Econds allow the TLC to compare the health of its reserves using a valid reference point for condition. As land managers this enables us to track the effectiveness of management actions and prioritise which conservation assets need more attention,” she said.
The TLC’s Five Rivers Reserve spans over 11,000 hectares, with substantial areas included in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. From open grassland valleys, old-growth forests, woodlands, and endangered sphagnum moss beds, Five Rivers Reserve protects habitat for endangered wildlife including the Tasmanian devil, Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle and the Clarence galaxias, an endemic freshwater fish.
“Environmental accounting is new global way of thinking about conservation and rewarding good management in market driven systems,” Dr Bryant said.
The TLC intends to apply the environmental accounting methodology to its other private protected landscapes and stay at the forefront of innovations that generate financial rewards for conservation and best-practice land management.