Accounting for Nature

In 2006 the Commonwealth Auditor General released a scathing report on the performance of the Commonwealth natural resource programs. This report was the latest in string of reports highlighting the need for a set of national environmental accounts.

The lack of an environmental accounting framework is a fundamental weakness of Australian environment policy. It can not be fixed by simply re-structuring the delivery of existing programs. It can only be fixed by building a national system that is regionally based, for the purposes of monitoring, data collection, evaluation and reporting.

In Accounting for Nature: A Model for Building the National Environmental Accounts of Australia, the Wentworth Group proposes an environmental accounting system which would measure the health and change in condition of our major environmental assets and underpin long-term catchment management and land use planning decisions, locally and nationally.

Future prosperity requires building a 21st century economy that is profoundly different to that of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Wentworth Group believes that National Environmental Accounts are fundamental to this future.

This paper explores the fundamentals of environmental accounts.



Mr Peter Cosier, Prof. Tim Flannery, Dr Ronnie Harding, Prof. David Karoly, Prof. David Lindenmayer, Prof. Hugh Possingham FAA, Mr Robert Purves AM, Dr Denis Saunders AM, Prof. Bruce Thom, Dr John Williams and Prof. Mike Young.

In association with

Dr Eva Abal, Adj. Prof. Leith Boully, Dr Neil Byron, Ms Pam Green, Prof. Ian Lowe, Ms Di Tarte and Mr Dennis Trewin


We acknowledge the contribution made by Fiona McKenzie, former Policy Analyst, Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, and the 2007 Wentworth Group Scholars. We are also grateful for the benefit of the leadership and guidance of the late Professor Peter Cullen to the development of this model.

ISBN: 978-0-646-49387-9