Ecosystem services and water planning in the Murray-Darling Basin

University of Wollongong, Faculty of Law
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australasian Journal of Natural Resources Law and Policy, 2012, 15 (1), pp. 17 - 41
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The concept of 'ecosystem services' aims to encapsulate the reliance of human lives and wellbeing on nature, in order to inform decisions about how humankind interacts with and uses the natural environment. The now well-recognised term underpins various frameworks for identifying, quantifying and linking the health of ecosystems and social and economic outcomes. However, operationalising this apparently fundamental concept in a useful way is far from straightforward in the complex situation of allocating water resources between apparently irreconcilable demands in Australia's Murray-Darling Basin. The Water Act 2007 (Cth), which forms the basis for the latest water refonns in the MDB, includes express reference to the importance of ecosystem services. However, there is much uncertainty as to whether and how analysis of these benefits has influenced water allocation planning and decisions.
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