In 2008 the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists developed and produced a paper on the Accounting for Nature model. This model sought to establish a practical, affordable and scientifically robust framework for applying scientific information about the biophysical condition of environmental assets (e.g. native vegetation, soil, rivers, estuaries, fauna) into a metric termed an Econd.
In 2010, with the financial support of The Ian Potter Foundation, the Wentworth Group partnered with Australia’s 56 Regional Natural Resource Management authorities, and in cooperation with scientists, economists and statisticians in universities and Commonwealth and state government agencies, undertook a 4-year landscape scale proof-of-concept trial to test the practical application of the Accounting for Nature model. The practical experience of this trial resulted in a revised Accounting for Nature methodology that was published in November 2016.
The Accounting for Nature method is a free, publically available, open-source methodology that sets out a process for creating a common unit of measure to describe the condition of environmental assets, at the landscape scale, that can also measure changes in the condition of those environmental assets over time.
From 2016-2018 the Wentworth Group collaborated with three private sector enterprises to test the practical application of the Accounting for Nature model at a property scale.
In December 2018 Accounting for Nature Limited, a public, not-for-profit company, was established to further develop the Accounting for Nature framework, and appropriate standards for the implementation and accreditation of the Accounting for Nature model, to a point where it can be applied in a commercial setting.
Whilst the Wentworth Group will continue to advocate for the concept of applying scientific measurements to the biophysical condition of environmental assets, as from December 2018 it will not take part in any further development of or application or implementation of the Accounting for Nature model. Any further application or implementation of the Accounting for Nature model, standard development, and development of accreditation protocols for the Accounting for Nature model will be undertaken by Accounting for Nature Limited pursuant to a licensing agreement with the Wentworth Group.
Australian Regional Environmental Accounts Trial
The health of the natural environment matters because it affects the wellbeing of people directly and because it underpins other things that people value: healthy river systems, productive soils, sustainable fisheries, and the conservation of nature and our unique and priceless biological diversity.
In 2008, the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and other experts in science, economics, statistics, and public policy, developed the Accounting for Nature model. This model places scientific information about the condition of our environment into an accounting framework, which allows the community and our policy makers to better understand complex scientific information, evaluate and set measurable policy targets, estimate the cost of meeting those targets, identify the most cost-effective investment decisions, and then monitor the success of these investments over time.
Over the past four years, Australia’s Regional Natural Resource Management authorities, in cooperation with scientists, economists and statisticians in universities, Commonwealth and State government agencies, have conducted a continental scale trial to test the practical application of this Accounting for Nature model. Ten NRM regions compiled regional accounts using the asset condition accounting method described in the Quick Guide (2013). This method used a common unit of measure, the Econd, to quantify the condition of environmental assets. Accounts produced during the trial were developed for assets within land, freshwater, coastal and marine environments.
Ten NRM regions participated in the Australian Regional Environmental Accounts Trial.
The Wentworth Group secretariat, guided by the Scientific Standards and Accreditation Committee and supported by The Ian Potter Foundation and NRM Regions Australia, have now completed its extensive scientific review of the accounts. The Evaluation of the Australian Regional Environmental Accounts Trial provides a summary of the findings of the trial. A detailed analysis of the accounts and approaches to the accounts can be found in the Technical Analysis of the Australian Regional Environmental Accounts Trial.
The accounts and the many other products which have been produced throughout this trial, have become reality through the combination of the best available science with the practical real world experience of professionals across Australia. While there are still questions to be resolved, we now know that it is practical and feasible to create robust asset condition accounts at a regional scale, which in turn inform the development of national environmental accounts.
The Wentworth Group’s work on environmental accounts is funded in partnership with The Ian Potter Foundation.